The 411 On Potential Jeff Samardzija Trade Partners: Pirates

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates don't seem to have a great need for starting pitching, but they've apparently inquired on Jeff Samardzija. It's fun to play what if with their system, so let's see what they have.

The Need

The Pirates made the playoffs last year for the first time in forever and with a young core, they could be set up for a run of sustained success. The issue here is that they don't really need Shark, as they already have five starters and a bit of depth. But there were rumors earlier in the winter of the Pirates having interest and they have an outstanding farm system, so let's look at some prospects.

The Prospects

Here are the articles I'm digging from:

Baseball America's Top 10 Pirates' Prospects (11/18/13)

MLB.com's Top 20 Pirates' Prospects

The Pirates' system has it all, pitching and position players, elite talent and depth. There are almost too many guys to mention, so I'll focus on the pitchers and then talk quickly about a couple of position players.

Jameson Taillon, RHP, Double-A: 110⅓ IP, 8.65 K/9, 2.94 BB/9, 3.67 ERA, 3.34 FIP; Triple-A: 37 IP, 9.00 K/9, 3.89 BB/9, 3.89 ERA, 3.17 FIP

Taillon is considered a Top-20 prospect in baseball and a possible No. 2 starter who is near MLB ready. He throws a mid-90s fastball that is considered plus as well as a curveball that is also considered plus. He needs work on both his changeup and his slider and could improve his command some as well.

Nick Kingham, RHP, High-A: 70 IP, 9.64 K/9, 1.80 BB/9, 3.09 ERA, 3.16 FIP; Double-A: 73.1 IP, 8.47 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, 2.70 ERA, 2.85 FIP

Kingham is viewed as a future mid-rotation starter that has good command and the potential for three plus pitches. His fastball is already plus, as he throws it in the low 90s with good movement and command. His curve ball and changeup could use some work, but services seem to think both can get to plus. He's not major-league ready, but he's not far off and could be in the big leagues sometime in 2015.

Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Low-A: 111⅓ IP, 13.26 K/9, 4.93 BB/9, 2.18 ERA, 3.19 FIP

Glasnow was viewed as a raw player with high upside going into 2013 and responded by absolutely dominating hitters in Low-A, striking out 164 batters in a little over 111 innings. He did so by using a fastball that was at times overpowering (mid 90s) and countering that with an inconsistent curve. The issues with Glasnow are mostly his command and consistency with his delivery, but he could use work on his change and curve as well. There's still a lot of risk here, but if he can put it together, he's a potential No. 2 starter.

Luis Heredia,RHP, Low-A: 65 IP, 7.62 K/9, 5.12 BB/9, 3.05 ERA, 4.49 FIP

A Top-100 player going into 2013, Heredia had big time setbacks this year, spending much of the year in extended spring training after reporting overweight. When he did finally leave spring training, he struggled mightily with his control. His weight took a couple ticks off of his fastball and he ended up relying a lot on his changeup, which is plus and allowed him to neutralize lefties. He also throws both a curve ball and a slider, but both need some work. If he can control his weight, add back the velocity and continue to develop his breaking ball, he's a potential No. 2.

Gregory Polanco, OF, High-A: 241 ABs, .312 AVG, .364 OBP, .472 SLG, .383 wOBA; Double-A: 286 ABs, .263 AVG, .354 OBP, .407 SLG, .347 wOBA

One of the fastest rising prospects in the minors last year, Polanco burst on the scene by showing all five tools, an ability to play center field and a solid hit and power combination that projects to improve. The biggest question is his bat: he needs to better identify breaking pitches, develop his power and shorten his swing. His breakout season didn't stop when the minors ended, as he was recently named MVP in the Dominican Winter League after putting up a .331/.428/.494 slash line. Polanco is a Top-10 prospect in baseball who could be major league ready as soon as next year and has the potential to be a perennial All-Star.

Josh Bell, OF, Low-A: 519 ABs, .279 AVG, .353 OBP, .453 SLG, .369 wOBA

The Pirates gave Bell a huge overslot in 2011 and he rewarded them by... shredding his knee 15 games into his first season. Bell, a switch hitter, bounced back last year by showing a solid hit tool to go with good power potential and plate discipline. He profiles as a solid defender in right field with a good arm. While he's only touched low-A, you could see him sneak into some top 100 lists this offseason.

Others to keep an eye on:

Reese McGuire, Alen Hanson and Austin Meadows

The Deals

Womp Womp:

Luis Heredia, Barrett Barnes and Wyatt Mathisen

That's about right:

Tyler Glasnow/Nick Kingham, Josh Bell and Clay Holmes

Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham and Josh Bell for Jeff Samardzija, Nate Schierholtz and James Russell

Holy &%$#!

Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham and Clay Holmes

Jameson Taillon and Clay Holmes

Gregory Polanco and Wyatt Mathisen

The Fit

The Pirates' rotation is full, so I'm not really sure where Samardzija fits into their plans. If they re-sign A.J. Burnett, then there's almost zero chance they trade for Shark, in my opinion. Many of you may scoff at me for even writing about the Pirates, but they were rumored to have interest earlier in the offseason, have done little with their rotation and have minor league talent that is fun to play with. Barring an injury set back to one of their starters in spring training, I don't see the need, but they certainly have the talent to get a deal done for Shark if they want to.

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