The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the middle of an amazing season thus far, as they enter the second half of the year with a 56-37 record. That’s even more incredible when you consider that the Bucs have only scored 357 runs this season, which is tied for 26th in all of baseball. With that in mind, it’s obvious the team needs to add some offense if the franchise hopes to reach its first postseason since 1992.
Thursday night Jon Heyman of CBSSports reported that the Pirates are pushing hard to acquire Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios. But in an added nugget, Pittsburgh is also likely to push for White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez as well. A deal for both players would definitely qualify as a blockbuster and could reshape the National League playoff chase.
The Pirates open the second half of the season one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central and despite their lack of offense, the Bucs currently rank seventh in all of baseball with a plus-46 run differential. If they add some consistent offensive production, the rest of the NL Central could be in trouble.
Rios is currently hitting .270 with 11 home runs, 40 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .326 and an OPS of .755. He is signed through next season for $12.5 million and his deal has a $13.5 million club option for 2015. While that is a bit pricey, Rios he would be a huge upgrade in right field for the Pirates.
Ramirez is hitting .286 with one home run, 21 RBIs an on-base percentage of .311 and an OPS of .669. While those numbers aren’t great, his WAR is still 1.5. The Cuban shortstop has $23 million left on his contract that runs through 2015.
The White Sox are sure to be motivated sellers as the trade deadline approaches, and while Rios is being scouted by plenty of teams, the Pirates have one of the most well-stocked farm systems in all of baseball. Years of drafting high have left Pittsburgh with an outstanding stable of young players in the minors.
While Chicago won’t be able to get someone like fire-balling top prospect Jameson Taillon, they could get good value in return for Rios and Ramirez.
This is one to monitor moving forward.