Linebrink Deal Sets Value for Pirate Arms on Market

Wednesday night, the San Diego Padres dealt relief pitcher Scott Linebrink, a coveted commodity on the trade market, to the Milwaukee Brewers for three minor-league arms.
This isn’t the type of trade that has much sex appeal, even though Linebrink’s name had long been mentioned in talk surrounding the Red Sox and Yankees. But to Pirate fans, it should be intriguing. At this year’s deadline, Dave Littlefield will be making an attempt to move three relievers—Salomon Torres, Shawn Chacon, and Damaso Marte—and now, there’s a bit of precedent to go by.
Consider Linebrink and the Pirates’ triumvirate side by side:

 

ERA

IP

H

BB

K

AVG

Linebrink, ’07

3.80

45.0

41

14

25

.240

Linebrink, ’04-’06

2.51

233.1

186

71

221

.221

Chacon, ’07

3.59

67.2

65

30

55

.257

Chacon, ’04-’06

5.14

324.0

330

181

193

.266

Marte, ’07

1.55

29.0

18

12

33

.175

Marte, ’04-’06

3.60

177.1

152

98

185

.236

Torres, ’07

5.28

29.0

29

12

25

.257

Torres, ’04-06

2.89

280.0

261

96

189

.251

Linebrink is being paid $1.75 million in the last year of a contract. Shawn Chacon is making $3.825 million and, like Linebrink, will also be a free agent at season’s end. Marte is making $2.45 million in 2007, $2 million in 2008, and has a club option for 2009 worth $6 million (or a $250,000 buyout). Torres is making $2.6 million in 2007, $3.2 million in 2008, and has a club option for 2009 worth $3.75 million (or a $300,000 buyout).
Kevin Towers acquired two interesting 20-year-old starters, Will Inman and Steve Garrison, in addition to a lower-ceiling (but major-league ready) reliever, Joe Thatcher, for Linebrink, a rental player who’s in the midst of a down year. The intelligent fans at Brew Crew Ball hate to see those young kids go, even though they’ll receive two picks in next June’s draft to replenish the farm should Linebrink leave via free agency. It was a hefty pricetag for sure.
The questions we’re left asking are these: If Linebrink brings that bounty, then what should the Pirates expect for the best available LOOGY, Marte, or two similarly serviceable righties? Are the prospects we’d receive even worth making a move? Could we, heaven forbid, actually acquire a piece who could contribute to the big-league club now (as Xavier Nady did in 2006)?
If the Bucs could pull a similar haul for Torres and/or Marte, I think it’s a no-brainer. Pull the trigger.
Only peripherally related, another guy I might consider moving going forward is Steve Pearce. I wrote at Sandlot Swashbucklers that I think Pearce’s tendency to pull the ball might not translate well to PNC Park. If Pearce continues to tear up Double-A, he might be a chip to use in the off-season in an attempt to shore up the holes at catcher, third base and center field. Then again, I’m certain Adam LaRoche is Pittsburgh’s first baseman of the future. You might not feel the same way.

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One Response to “Linebrink Deal Sets Value for Pirate Arms on Market”

  1. Tony Ferrante Says:

    Cory, I’d love to think that the Bucs could get decent value if any of Torres, Marte, or Chacon if/when they would get traded. But unfortunately, my confidence in Littlefield’s ability shoots that down right off the bat.
    In addition, I believe that Littlefield is regarded so negatively around MLB (too demanding, too unrealistic, etc.), that the other clubs would never give in to his demands because he has blown his relationships over the years with them.
    So don’t be surprised when the Ramirez for Bobby Hill-like trades start to come in soon.


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