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2021 MLB Trade Deadline Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates
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Once again, the Pittsburgh Pirates have found themselves near the very bottom of MLB. With the third-worst record in baseball, this club is once again heading towards another top-three pick in the draft. They held the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s event, ultimately picking Louisville catcher Henry Davis.

While the fate of their 2021 season is decided, the Pirates still have work to do before they think about free agency and the 2022 campaign. In fact, the July 30 trade deadline could dictate how Pittsburgh fares several years down the road.

Make sure to check out all of our other Trade Deadline Previews.

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Current Position

Record: 36-59
Rank: Fifth in NL East (19.5 GB)
Status: Sellers

With such a terrible record, the Pirates are clear sellers this year. It’s time for Pittsburgh to sell once again, parting ways with impactful players at the MLB level in order to fetch a prospect haul and bolster their farm system. The Pirates have plenty of rentals on their roster, though a few stick out as top trade chips.

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Trade Candidates

Adam Frazier, Second Baseman

Frazier has emerged as one of the best second basemen in all of baseball, showing that he can be a top contributor in any lineup. The 29-year-old is slashing .326/.390/.454 with 31 RBI, 33 walks, and just 45 strikeouts this season. His 11 percent strikeout rate ranks in the top-three percent in all of baseball, as does his .296 xBA. Meanwhile, his whiff percentage ranks in the 98th percentile. A left-handed hitter, Frazier does a decent job spraying the ball throughout the field, though all four of his homers were sent to right field. He’s making just $4.2 million in 2021 and is arbitration-eligible in 2022. Pittsburgh should be able to fetch a sizable return when they trade their All-Star second baseman. 

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Richard Rodriguez, Relief Pitcher

Several teams have interest in Rodriguez, which means the Pirates are likely to trade him this summer. After all, why hold on to him when you are out of contention and could flip him for a decent haul? The 31-year-old right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.65 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and .221 wOBA through 36 relief outings this season. He has a 22.1 percent strikeout rate while working with an incredible career-high 2.9 percent walk rate, which is the best in all of baseball. He also ranks inside the top-10 percentile in xwOBA, xERA, and fastball spin. He’s making just $1.7 million this year and is eligible for arbitration through 2023, giving whichever team trades for him plenty of control.

Tyler Anderson, Starting Pitcher

Anderson seems quite likely to be traded considering he will hit free agency at the end of the season and will be a tricky player for the Pirates to re-sign. The southpaw is 5-8 with a 4.36 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and .321 xwOBA through 18 starts in 2021. He’s posted a 20 percent strikeout rate, which ranks slightly below his career average. However, his 5.8 percent walk rate represents a career-best mark. He has 80th-percentile fastball spin this season while his chase rate ranks in the 74th percentile. The 31-year-old is making just $2.5 million this season, making him a great fit for almost every team in contention.

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