The Pittsburgh Pirates have dinged their 2015 squad ever so slightly by trading away outfielder Travis Snider to the Orioles for a couple pitching prospects.
Long-term, it’s a good move for the Pirates, who had Snider under control only through next year, and now pick up a couple nice A-ball pitching prospects. For the Orioles, they finally add an outfielder after losing both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz, and missing on a handful of targets throughout the Winter.
Snider, who turns 27 next week, is a former top prospect who still has some upside, and was quietly very good for the Pirates last year (.264/.338/.438, 121 wRC+ and 1.7 WAR in just 359 PAs). He’s been platooned for most of his career, even though his splits are not that pronounced, and were actually reversed last year. The Orioles could give him a look everyday, and might like what they see.
Obviously the significance of the move as far as Cubs fans are concerned is the Pirates unloading a big league piece without replacing him on the big league roster. The replacement will essentially come in the form of more regular starts for top positional prospect Gregory Polanco, who had a mixed debut last year, but still has a ton of talent. Polanco was probably going to be the primary starter in the outfield, together with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte anyway, so dealing Snider costs the Pirates only depth.
… but it’s not like that isn’t important. The Pirates are probably hoping that Jung-Ho Kang breaks out in the big leagues, allowing them some flexibility with respect to guys like Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison, and they’re probably hoping that Corey Hart can still be a productive reserve. Together with a breakout from Polanco, and health in the rest of the outfield, the Pirates could easily be no worse for the wear.
All in all, this is a very slight ding to the Pirates’ projections for 2015, which is important to a team like the Cubs, who are trying to sneak up on the Pirates and Cardinals. Every little bit counts. Presently, the Pirates are projected for 85 wins by FanGraphs, and the Cubs are at 84.