Rosenthal: Time for Pirates to dig into farm system to make a deadline deal

Why not the Pirates?

Baseball America ranks the Pirates’ farm system as the best in baseball. And as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, the team should at least consider putting that system to use.

Specifically, the Pirates should acquire Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, a move that would give them an edge in the heated zero-sum game of the NL Central.

Yes, the Pirates might earn a wild card regardless of whether they make a trade. But they’re only two games behind the Brewers and a half-game behind the Cardinals – and both those clubs are trying to add top starters.

The addition of Lester would represent an economic and philosophical departure for the Pirates; Lester is owed about $4.33 million for the rest of the season – a high price for a team that declined to make A.J. Burnett a $14.1 million qualifying offer last offseason.

And if the Pirates gave up a prospect such as outfielder Josh Bell – a player under discussion, according to Yahoo! – they could not get a draft pick back if Lester departed as a free agent.

No matter. If Bell is too steep a price, offer some other prospect.

It’s time for the Pirates to take the next step.