As the Pittsburgh Pirates possibly look to move Starling Marte, these five teams should have interest in trading for him.
Coming off a 69-93 season, with a new manager (Derek Shelton) and general manager (Ben Cherington), the Pittsburgh Pirates are staring down at least a reset if not a full-on rebuild. Starling Marte has lingered as a possible trade chip dating back to July’s trade deadline, and via Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z 101 in the Dominican Republic the veteran outfielder wants to move on to a contending team.
Marte is coming off another good season in 2019, as he posted a .295/.342/.503 slash-line with career-highs in home runs (23), RBI (82) and runs scored (97) along with 25 stolen bases while he accounted for 2.9 bWAR. His all-around peak, when he averaged 5.0 bWAR per season from 2013-2016, is gone but Marte is still an above average player at 31 years old.
The Pirates picked up Marte’s $11.5 million option for 2020, then he’s got a $12.5 million club option for 2021 that comes with a $1 million buyout. That 2021 option stands to be a little pricey for Pittsburgh, especially if they intend to get younger and retool.
Along with his willingness to be traded being out there now, Marte expressed affinity for one team in particular. Via Gomez, here’s the English translation of what Marte said when he was asked about said team: “The Mets have it all. It would be a great opportunity to play with them.”
The New York Mets are reportedly interested in Marte, which prompted the specific question to him.
Marte is a two-time Gold Glover, but his defense is not where it was as he is showing to be an ill-fit to play center field. He delivered -9 Defensive Runs Saved last year and a -7.6 UZR, so perhaps he should move to a corner outfield spot. But with a dearth of top-end free agent center fielders out there, teams with a need may tolerate below-par defense to get Marte’s 20-20 potential and broader offensive production.
Assuming Marte will be on the move this winter, these five teams should be ready to make a deal for him.
5. Cleveland Indians
The Indians are becoming budget conscious, fueling trade rumors surrounding star shortstop Francisco Lindor as he heads toward free agency after the 2021 season. Last March, owner Paul Dolan basically said fans should be prepared for Lindor to depart. So it’s safe to say big splashes are not coming this offseason, and the Indians may be something of an offseason seller with Corey Kluber possibly on the move as well as Lindor.
But as the Indians look to catch the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central, and ward off the rising Chicago White Sox, Marte is essentially a one-year rental. And they have holes in the outfield, with the corner spots both question marks around budding star center fielder Oscar Mercado.
How seriously the Indians take themselves as a contender next year will drive their offseason. But an effort to make one more run with all key pieces in place could very easily be on the table, and a trade for Marte would be a solid supplement if the price is right.