Who would the Pirates land? Mark Trumbo? Kendry Morales? Alex Rios? Hunter Pence? Michael Young? Giancarlo Stanton? For crying out loud, Justin Morneau? Marlon Byrd? Nate Schierholtz? David DeJesus? Ummm, nope. Heck, the FO didn't even get a bargain basement trinket like Chad Qualls or Hisanori Takahashi this year.
So how is it that a team that had just a couple of holes to fill - a RH bat, maybe a lefty to platoon in right, a bench piece, some itching depth with Wandy Rodriguez and Jason Grilli on medical leave - whiff?
The explanation is simple - it was an extreme seller's market. That has a little to do with a lot of things: a pretty thin pool of available players, front offices straddling the fence about being a wildcard team, the loss of a compensation pick for players traded in mid-season, which drove up their price, guys that became virtually untouchable because of club demands or no-trade clauses, teams hanging on to their homegrown (and controllable) talent.
Neal Huntington said it wasn't from a lack of effort. “There's no question that we forced the issue,” Huntington told the media. “I made offers that made me incredibly uncomfortable.We were willing to do something stupid. We just didn't want to do something insane.”
Those "stupid" deals may have in efforts to land Giancarlo or Trumbo; the Bucs weren't just going for a fix but a knock-out. That fits NH's pattern, but neither the Fish nor Halos were inclined to let their guys go. And the truth is unlike the past two summers, the Buc brass didn't have to plug a dozen leaks in the dam; this campaign, a right handed mid-order stick to slip between Pedro and Garrett Jones, whether at first or right, would have sent the 800 pound gorilla packing.
It's possible that some guys the Pirates like will shake loose in August if they clear waivers, and a lot of the big-money guys do. The Dodger's picked up Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto on August 25th last year. But teams are pretty aggressive down the stretch in making blocking claims, so that's a tough scenario to hang one's hat on.
So we'll see. Hunting alluded to internal candidates, and there are a couple. Tony Sanchez is here for the duration now, with Mike McKenry out. Alex Presley has taken Travis Snider's spot for the time being, and it's possible that Andrew Lambo, who is tearing up in AA and AAA this year and leading the organization in HR with 28, might get his first MLB cup of coffee.
If the starters need reinforced, Brandon Cumpton showed he can answer the bell, and Stolmy Pimentel has been intriguing. They still have Jared Hughes, Ryan Reid and Duke Welker if the bullpen wears thin. Who knows if the old adage "the best trade is the one you don't make" might not hold true this year, with guys like Gregory Polanco, Jameson Taillon, Alen Hansen, Tyler Glasnow & company approaching prime time?
But just sayin', it would have been nice to see Giancarlo between Cutch and Pedro...