Pittsburgh Pirates: Antonio Bastardo Still on the Trade Block

Earlier this off-season, it was reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates were working to trade Antonio Bastardo or Tony Watson.  According to the latest rumors, they are still working too.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a plethora of lefties available in their current bullpen.  Currently, they have five lefties, including Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo, Felipe Rivero, Tyler Webb, and Wade LeBlanc.  Of the five, Tony Watson and Antonio Bastardo are set to make the most money.

Early in the off-season, it was suggested that the Pittsburgh Pirates were actively shopping Antonio Bastardo and Tony Watson.  Watson is in his final year of club control, and is looking to make around $6 million in arbitration this season.  Meanwhile, Bastardo, who is coming off a down season, is set to make about $6.5 million.  One thing that could make Bastardo’s contract easier to take on, is the Mets are sending an undisclosed amount of money to help pay for the lefties’ contract.

Apparently, the Pittsburgh Pirates still looking to trade the lefty reliever.  Ken Rosenthal, of Fox Sports, wrote Wednesday night that the Bucs are still working to deal Bastardo.  He also noted why the rumor mill has been quiet on the reliever since the initial reports came out.  Here is what Rosenthal wrote:

The lag in the free-agent market has hampered the Pirates in their efforts to trade left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo and clear money for perhaps another acquisition, according to major-league sources.

The main reason there is a lag is because there are a few quality lefties still available on the free-agent market.  Jerry Blevins is on the market still, and Boone Logan just signed.  Teams interested in acquiring a lefty reliever will look to them before trading an asset for Bastardo.  All three likely will make similar money.  Logan is receiving $5.5 million for the year, announced on Thursday.

Regardless, Bastardo will likely be dealt by Spring Training.  Rosenthal makes it sound like the Bucs are looking to clear money to finish their off-season.  This money could be a key in bringing in another starting pitcher.  Currently, the Bucs have been linked to bringing in a starter like Jose Quintana, however, there are still some free agents out there.  A pitcher like Jason Hammel may require an extra $3-4 million dollars to entice to come here.  At the same time, Bastardo provides an excess to the Pirates.  He would free up the extra money to get a deal done, and would also allow the Bucs to open a roster spot.

In return for Bastardo, Pirates fans should not expect a whole lot.  The Bucs would do well to get one top 30 prospects in a deal.  Dealing Bastardo would be more about freeing up money, and also trading away from a position of depth. Look for this move to happen sooner rather than later, as left handed relief pitchers on the free agent market are starting to dwindle.

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