Neal Huntington: Pirates were never considering trading Felipe Vazquez, Jameson Taillon

August 12, 2018

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington smiles on the field before a game against the Mets Friday, July 27, 2018, at PNC Park.

Neal Huntington conceded that the Pirates’ seven-week swoon had finally brought him to the brink in which he was prepared to “sell” at last week’s trade deadline. But the general manager insists that even before the Pirates’ 11-game winning streak changed things, he never was going to trade any player who was not on an expiring contract.

“When club hit rock bottom at seven (games) under (.500 on July 7),” Huntington said on his weekly KDKA-FM radio show Sunday, ”(we began to consider), ’Maybe ’18 isn’t our year. How do we strengthen ’19, ‘20, and ‘21 moving on?’ (But) it was never a consideration to trade Felipe Vazquez, and trading Jameson Taillon was never a consideration for us.

“Our thought (instead) was, ‘Can we turn guys who are leaving at the end of the year into something?’ We went down that road - (but) this club responded... and showed what they did the first 45 days of the season was real and they were closer to that than what they did the next 45 days of the season.”

After a 26-17 start that had them in first place on May 17, the Pirates lost 31 of their next 45 games before going on an 11-game winning streak. The Pirates had lost five of nine since, though, heading into Sunday’s game against St. Louis.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer and utilityman Sean Rodriguez are the only Pirates players who will be unrestricted free agents this winter, but second baseman Josh Harrison and corner infielder David Freese have expensive team options. Catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Corey Dickerson can be free agents after next season.

The Pirates’ moves at the July 31 deadline added talent to the current team in starter Chris Archer and late-inning reliever Keone Kela. They were added in return for five players: Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows from the MLB roster, prospect Taylor Hearn and two players to be named.

In regards to the identity of those yet-to-be-named players, Huntington indicated that the Pirates and (separately) Rays and Rangers agreed upon lists from which the latter two players would choose by an agreed-to deadline. Huntington termed those to be named as “two very good players.”

“Tampa Bay will get another very good prospect (in addition to Glasnow and Madows, in exchange for Archer), and Texas will get another good prospect (in addition to Hearn, for Kela) - but just not to the pedigree (of the one the Rays will get),” Huntington said.

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