In a trade that left Scott Ferrall and countless other Pirates fans speechless, Pittsburgh traded Francisco Liriano and a pair of top prospects, Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez, to Toronto for Drew Hutchinson and cash just before the trade deadline Monday.
Liriano, 32, had been a mainstay in Pittsburgh’s rotation, while Hutchinson, 25, has a career 4.92 ERA over 76 games in the majors.
“It’s pretty bleak here, man,” Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan host Andrew Fillipponi said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The Pirates have built up some equity with their fans after 20 miserable years, making the playoffs the last three seasons. Even though they haven’t advanced in the postseason, (just making the playoffs) changed a lot of the attitudes here in Pittsburgh. But this is the type of trade – the Francisco Liriano trade that they made with literally one minute to go before the 4 o’clock deadline – this is the type of trade that I think has stigmatized the Pirates over the years and really feeds into the stereotype that they’re an organization that thinks money first and winning second. They’ve done a lot over the last few years to do their best to have that feeling maybe evaporate or go away. But a lot of those residual ill feelings toward this team really came to the forefront with this trade.”
The Liriano deal came right on the heels of trading closer Mark Melancon to the Nationals. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington still expects the Pirates (52-51) to compete for the World Series this year.
Or so he says.
“He’s tried to have the best of both worlds,” Fillipponi said. “He’s made statements leading up to this weekend and the trade deadline to try to cajole the Pirates’ fan base into thinking that they were going to get rid of good players and at the same time that they were not throwing in the towel on the season. Then he makes the Melancon deal and he says exactly that: Look, we already have an All-Star set-up man in Tony Watson, (Neftali) Feliz has pitched in close games in the playoffs before, he’ll move up to the eighth inning, and oh, by the way, we just got a guy back from Washington who’s left-handed and throws 100 miles per hour. So he goes through that and then he says, ‘We still feel like we can compete for the Wild Card spot and the World Series, and our objective and our goals have not changed at all with this trade.’ And he said all of this with a straight face.”
The Pirates also traded two minor leaguers to the Yankees for Ivan Nova and traded Jonathon Niese to the Mets for reliever Antonio Bastardo.
“You can rationalize the other trades that he made as just minor deals, deals that really don’t affect the team (in a huge way),” Fillipponi said. “(Ivan) Nova’s not any good, but he’s going to eat up innings. Niese has had an awful year and Bastardo had some success here last year, so maybe that works. But the Liriano trade, this is somebody that has been for them their opening day stater the last three years. He’s been rotten, but if they’re going to turn their season around and make the playoffs in the next two months, they needed him. And to not get any major league talent back for him, and you give up two of your top 10 prospects in that trade? Scott, you know this as a Pirates fan. They are so tight when it comes to trading prospects. They never do it. And this is the first time under Huntington that they’ve traded two top-10 prospects in a deal where they gave up the best player. It makes no sense. And guys like you who have grown up with this team have a right to be upset right now.”