The Pittsburgh Pirates carried baseball's best record into trade deadline day but ended up on the less desirable side of the ledger in Jeff Passan's winners and losers column after failing to make any upgrades.
As we've now learned, it wasn't for lack of effort. General manager Neal Huntington is reported to have made strong pushes for two difference-making bats — Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and Los Angeles Angels slugger Mark Trumbo — that would have instantly solidified Clint Hurdle's lineup around Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez. But at the end of the day, perhaps he aimed a little too high and ended up losing track of what they really needed to maintain their current standing.
Teams tried to pry away top prospects such as Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco and Tyler Glasnow, but Huntington's grip on them is tight. Huntington also prefers to acquire players with years of control rather than two-month rentals.
The Pirates gave indications they were willing to give up a young pitcher for Mark Trumbo. But a source told the Tribune-Review the Los Angeles Angels made it clear they had no interest in dealing their power-hitting first baseman.
The Pirates made repeated attempts to work a deal for Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton and made a significant offer that caught the attention of the Marlins' front office. However, Miami's owner did not want to shed the team's lone star.
Those were aggressive and perhaps even misguided attempts on Huntington's part, but at least the general manager was able to admit as much himself after the deadline passed. ''We talk a lot about, we don't want to do something stupid,'' Huntington told the Associated Press following Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Cardinals. ''We were willing to do something stupid. We just didn't want to do anything insane.''
He did avoid that at least, but as Passan indicates in his column, Huntington's efforts may have been better spent seeking out a relief pitcher to stabilize their bullpen following the potential loss of All-Star closer Jason Grilli for the rest of the regular season. The Pirates also had their eyes on several less attractive but still helpful offensive pieces in outfielder Alex Rios, Hunter Pence, Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus.
But hey, who am I to criticize a G.M. who can openly admit he was too aggressive? And besides that, Huntington, Hurdle and the whole crew in Pittsburgh have done a magnificent job rebuilding and retooling the organization from top to bottom. Maybe aiming big now and laying low on some of the more obvious names will end up paying off for them in the long run anyway.
Truth be told, they've earned the benefit of the doubt in this situation, even if I'm reluctant to give it to them.