The Pittsburgh Pirates have been cleaning house this offseason, firing manager Clint Hurdle while parting ways with team president Frank Coonelly.
With the Pirates in retooling mode, some are wondering if they're going to start gutting the roster. But it doesn't sound like a busy offseason will include a Starling Marte trade.
The 2016 All-Star and two-time Gold Glove outfielder is under team control for two more seasons. However, Adam Berry of MLB.com reported in his latest mailbag that people the "within the industry currently expect that Marte will begin next season with the Pirates."
Berry suggested that the Pirates could look to trade Marte at the 2020 deadline, since he'll only have one more year of team control. Berry pointed out that the Pirates did this with former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, sending him to the San Francisco Giants before the 2018 campaign as he entered the final year of his contract.
The 31-year-old Marte set a career-high in home runs (23), RBI (82) and OPS (.845). He batted .295 and recorded 25 stolen bases. Marte posted a 2.9 Wins-Above-Replacement on the 2019 campaign.
Marte has spent his entire eight-year career with the Pirates. He was instrumental in helping them reach three straight NL Wild Card Games from 2013 to 2015, but the Pirates have now recorded three consecutive losing seasons.
That sparked changes from ownership and management, but the Pirates appear keen on retaining their All-Star outfielder for now. Unless Pittsburgh returns to playoff contention in 2020, it's hard to envision Marte starting the season here in 2021.
The Pirates have traded away numerous core players from their 2013 to 2015 playoff squads, including McCutchen, All-Star pitcher Gerrit Cole, veteran starter Francisco Liriano, and second baseman Neil Walker. Only time will tell if Marte is also moved out.
All Signs Point To A Marte Trade
It makes sense for the Pirates to keep Marte for the time being. If he can build off his excellent 2019 season, then Marte will see his trade value go up even more. The Pirates shouldn't feel rushed to move Marte, because he still has two years left on his deal. But given his age and Pittsburgh's need to restock the farm system, a Marte trade feels inevitable.