The Pirates are looking to trade Jameson Taillon. Pittsburgh is in the depths of a rebuild, and reports suggest Taillon could be on the move in the next couple of days.
Joe Musgrove was traded to the Padres. Taillon, who hasn’t pitched since seven starts in 2019, is the next set to leave Pittsburgh for a contender. With a trade looming, questions of Taillon’s injury status are inevitable. He had Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2019, but having not pitched in the Majors since then, this is a definite sell-low situation for the Pirates.
Owning a 3.67 ERA in 82 big league starts, though, Taillon has big upside. He works off a primary slider and a fastball which sits around 95mph. A hard thrower, Taillon hasn’t always got the strikeouts to reward his stuff. Could this be a Pirates problem? After all, we saw similar with Gerrit Cole, who leapt from 8.4 strikeouts per nine to leading the league in Ks in his first season with the Astros.
The former second overall pick is under control for multiple seasons. He’s cheap and undeniably talented. Pittsburgh shouldn’t be in a rush to trade him given where his value is right now. If they are, as reports suggest, keen to trade Taillon soon, the return is not going to be spectacular. Teams will not give up top prospects for a player who has spent so long on the IL.
Pittsburgh might be able to acquire some surplus Major League talent. If not, they should settle for high-upside teenage talent. Here are a few teams which could be in the mix.
The New York Yankees are considering a Taillon trade, according to reports. New York would probably give up Clint Frazier in a potential deal. Pittsburgh’s negotiating position is not strong, and we can’t help but wonder if they would be better off taking talent from deep in the farm system. Frazier is unlikely to be on the next good Pirates team.
The similarities with Cole are impossible to ignore. A high draft pick who has been good, not great, with the Pirates, and could be available at a bargain price via trade – front offices will be tempted to trade for Taillon even if they are not immediate contenders. For MLB‘s strongest teams, though, Taillon is a pitcher who can elevate their starting staff from above-average to dominant.
The San Francisco Giants are still looking for a starter or two. Farhan Zaidi can add yet another affordable piece through a trade for Taillon, which could be a better option than splashing on Jake Odorizzi.
Staying in the NL West, this feels like a very Dodgers trade to make. Picking up Taillon for prospects they care little about and immediately turning him into a Cy Young contender would be typical Dodgers. Their supposed interest in Trevor Bauer shows they are interested in adding a starter – could Taillon be their man?
Contenders like the Twins, Phillies, Blue Jays and Astros all make sense as Taillon trade destinations. It could be a question of who can outbid the Yankees – this situation is a test of how much a front office is willing to risk for a player with All-Star upside but considerable uncertainty.