Now that the non-waiver deadline has passed, we’re taking a look back at what each team was able to accomplish before 4 p.m. ET on July 31. Next up in our recap series, the Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates (56-57), 4 GB in NL Central, 8 GB in NL Wild Card
ACQUIRED: RHP Joaquin Benoit (from PHI), INF Oneil Cruz (from LAD), INF Angel German (from LAD)
TRADED: LHP Tony Watson (to LAD), RHP Seth McGarry (to PHI)
For the second year in a row, the Pirates entered the trade deadline in the worst place for a team to be: on the buy/sell fence. After unloading Mark Melancon to the Nationals in 2016 for stud reliever Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh was once again looking to be creative in using the July trade period to improve its roster.
The early talk around the Bucs was that the club could be big sellers, with Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen frequently mentioned as trade candidates. Solid play in July led to those two players being taken off the market, with only lesser players like Tony Watson, David Freese, John Jaso and Juan Nicasio being mentioned as chips as the month wore on.
General manager Neal Huntington waited until the eleventh hour to make his deals, sending Watson to the Dodgers for two prospects and replacing him with Joaquin Benoit via a trade with Philadelphia. Though both relievers are free agents at the end of the year, the replacement of Watson with Benoit gave the Pirates a right-handed option in front of Rivero, a lefty.
Pittsburgh’s simultaneous bullpen deals also improved the club’s farm system, as 18-year old infielder Oneil Cruz is a projectable talent who is now ranked as the 16th-best prospect in the Bucs’ system (per MLB Pipeline). Seth McGarry, sent to Philadelphia in the Benoit deal, is not ranked in Philadelphia’s top 30.
The Bucs took on Benoit’s larger contract while shipping out Watson, giving the club a chance to acquire a prospect in the process. While the deals weren’t the sexiest ones made on the afternoon of July 31, they appear to be useful ones.
Pittsburgh has already been active on the waiver trade market, acquiring old friend Sean Rodriguez in a swap with the Braves over the weekend. Former top pick Connor Joe went to Atlanta in the deal as the Pirates improved their bench depth with a familiar face.
For a complete list of our trade deadline recaps, click here.