The Pittsburgh Pirates have been threatening to do something for about a month, and now they have. Owners of a startling 54-42 record, the Pirates traded for starter Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday to address one of their many needs. The Houston Astros, or “the dirty sluts of the 2012 trade market” as we like to call them, will get minor league starters Colton Cain and Rudy Owens along with really cool minor league outfield prospect Robbie Grossman in return.
Rodriguez is still a very effective pitcher despite his ever-increasing age and a pervasive lack of velocity that has never been of much concern given the results. The scrawny left-hander is on pace for another solid 3.0-ish WAR season thanks to a low walk rate that has helped him to advanced metrics in line with the best seasons of his underrated career. It’s obviously beneficial to the usually awful Pirates to acquire a starting pitcher whose FIP and xFIP are annually south of 4.00. Rodriguez is signed for 2013 at $13 million and comes with a $13 million team option for the 2014 season. That season will make Rodriguez 35 years old, but his game isn’t one that age will deteriorate quite as much. Oh, and for what it’s worth the Astros will be paying part of Rodriguez’s salary but the exact amount is yet to be released to the general public.
The Astros are very clearly in the business of developing their farm system since Jeff Luhnow inherited a complete mess of a franchise. Luhnow made out very well in this trade, picking up three prospects who were considered among the better fellas in the Pittsburgh system coming into the season. Grossman was listed as the fifth best Pirate prospect by FanGraphs earlier this year thanks to all sorts of patience and burgeoning power at age 22. Owens and Cain are both big lefties who project at the back of a rotation or in the bullpen if things don’t work out ideally.
It’s clear the acquisition of Rodriguez is going to boost Pittsburgh’s rotation, but they gave up three interesting players (including the very interesting Grossman) and will have to pay an aging Wandy for at least one more season. I’m sure the Pittsburgh fan base and maybe even the team itself were itching for a deal, but I’m not really seeing this one as a necessary transaction. Three valuable-enough members of a developing farm system are now gone and there is virtually no chance that Wandy Rodriguez makes the difference in the Pirates claiming a playoff spot in 2012.
It should be noted that I was ever so tempted to make the title of this entry an outburst of corny bliss. Rejected titles to this post include “Dumbledore Waves Wandy, Comes Up With Starting Pitcher for Pirates,” and “It’s a Wandyful Life.” Good luck getting all of that to turn up in search engines, though. Hey, StanGraphs has to play the game, too!