Monday, July 31, 2023

Newsletter Excerpt, July 31, 2023 -- "Thinking Inside the Box"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

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Pirates 6, Phillies 4 (10 inn.)

                     IP  H  R ER BB  K
Bednar                1  0  0  0  1  2

One of the mysteries of each year’s deadline is sussing out what teams think of their own futures. David Bednar couldn’t be dealt at last year’s deadline, when the Pirates were years from contention, because of back problems. Now, he’s pitching well for a Pirates team that can reasonably expect to contend for a playoff berth in 2024. With Bednar controlled through 2026, will Ben Cherington want to trade one of the best relievers in the game?

The counter is that you can make relievers in a way you can’t make high-OBP outfielders or slugging third basemen. Bednar himself is an example, a 35th-round pick who had a 6.75 ERA when he was traded east from the Padres in 2021. The Pirates are getting good work from other teams’ rejects like Dauri Moreta, Ryan Borucki, and Angel Perdomo. In Bednar, they hold one of the best relievers in baseball and one who can be controlled for three more full seasons. Given the desperation out there for marginal pitching, the Pirates could return a haul for Bednar. He has far more value than David Robertson or Jordan Hicks. Pending the Mets and Justin Verlander, I think he’s the best player left who could be traded.