Pittsburgh Pirates: Will Craig (Pirates #6), Nick Kingham (#7), and Taylor Hearn (#11)
As the standings sit right now, the Pirates are only four games back in the NL Central, and with Jung Ho Kang likely out all season (and maybe even longer), they could be buying at the deadline to supplement David Freese at third. Although they are normally reluctant to give up prospects, the possible shopping of Andrew McCutchen could lead to a build-up of prospects that might loosen their grip on some of their current prospects.
While Cole Tucker is a young and athletic, defensive shortstop prospect with offensive upside, he seems to be a little less of a sure thing than Craig as the centerpiece of this trade. Craig was a unanimous 1st Team All-American last year, almost won the triple crown in the ACC, and went number 22 overall in the draft. In the NYPL, he displayed great plate discipline, walking more than he struck out. He projects to have both power and contact abilities, and even though the former is lacking this season, he is slashing .290/.394/.417 in High A. As far as question marks are concerned, his arm is perfect for third base, but his foot- and glove-work need improvement if he’s to stick there.
Kingham was drafted out of high school in 2010, and he excelled during his first 5 years in the Pirates’ system, with an ERA that generally fell in the 3.00 to 3.50 region, BB/9 rates between 2 and 3, and K/BB ratio around 3. Although he made it to AAA Indianapolis by 2014, a torn UCL forced him to have Tommy John surgery before he reached the majors in 2015. Since then, he has seemingly returned to full strength, throwing in the low 90s with a plus changeup and plus control while continuing to improve his workable curveball. He could be a useful piece in the very near future at the major league level.
Hearn is a bit more of a project than Kingham; however, the 6’5” southpaw was drafted in four straight years, first by the Pirates, but eventually ended up in the Nationals system, coming to the Pirates in the Mark Melancon trade last year. While his control is spotty, his changeup is subpar, and he uses his fastball too much, the ability to throw cheese at 97-98 mph and a plus slider provide enough intrigue to make Hearn a worthwhile target in this trade.
Toronto Blue Jays: Bo Bichette (Blue Jays #5, MLB #100), Zach Jackson (Blue Jays #19), Reggie Pruitt (Blue Jays #27)
Now that the Blue Jays have found their stride and are within 5 games of the Yankees and Red Sox, it might make sense for them to meet a need and buy into Solarte at the deadline. The second basemen they’ve been playing have been holding their own, but they’re young and unproven with low ceilings.
While Sean Reid Foley and his mid- to high-nineties fastball would make a great centerpiece for this trade, it is very unlikely the Jays would move him. So, Bichette, the son of the former 4-time All-Star Dante, makes a great case as the next best option. He has an awkward swing that could use some tweaking, but he still excels at making hard contact to all fields. In rookie ball last year, he slashed .427/.451/.732, and he has continued that tear to start his career at full season ball, hitting .394/.457/.627 with 45 RBI. His speed isn’t great, and his defensive prowess is not noteworthy, but he has range at short and could even be moved to corner outfield if need be.
Jackson sports a strong breaking ball that runs in the low 90s and a mid-90s fastball. He even has shown flashes with a changeup, but it is in need of refinement as is the case with many young pitchers. Despite his size (6’4”, 215 lbs), his multi-faceted delivery has led to weaker control than a starter should have, so he’ll likely continue to pitch as a reliever as he makes his way toward the show.
Pruitt’s hitting and power are lacking, but his speed (3.6 seconds to first when drag bunting) and plus defensive skills make him an interesting project to pick up as a throw-in to the deal. Despite his anemic OBP in the first 10 games of this season (.195), he’s already stolen 4 bases.
Any of the teams listed above could use an upgrade in Solarte. With the Padres banking on contending sometime after his contract is up and the greater return they could receive trading him now rather than later, dealing him this year makes sense. Although this may upset many fans by losing one of their favorite players, they should be happy in the next few years when the prospects they get in return are helping their team compete for an NL West title or maybe more. Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with one of those guys the same way they did with Solarte. At the very least, perhaps we can all be happy for Solarte if he gets a chance to play for a contender.