First Pitch: Joe Musgrove is the Most Interesting Case Study For the 2020 Trade Deadline

The latest Pittsburgh Pirates trade rumor comes from Jason Mackey, who reports that the Braves have shown interest in Joe Musgrove.

Musgrove is perhaps the most interesting case to follow at the trade deadline this year. His overall numbers haven’t been good, although it has been a total of three starts. He’s coming off an injury. He has two years of control remaining beyond the 2020 season.

His numbers in the past haven’t been great, but his advanced metrics indicate there’s another level he hasn’t reached. His issues this year were largely due to an uncharacteristically high walk rate, and that highlights the issue that you can’t really project a player’s future 2020 production based on their limited 2020 production so far. He also has dealt with injuries in the past, so there’s no guarantee that this is the last one he’ll deal with.

The Pirates could hold onto him and try to get better value next year, assuming MLB can play a full or longer season next year. There’s also the chance that some MLB team will pay a higher price this year, trying to get him in the system early for those final two years, along with getting a boost for the remainder of this season.

This whole trade deadline is crazy. It’s like having a trade deadline in early May, at a point when MLB’s current season stats haven’t stabilized, and thus at a point where you really can’t go much on current season stats. It’s also like making a trade in late August, where you’re only getting the player for a month, and the hope that this one player gives you the boost needed to make the playoffs. Since so many teams are closer together in the standings, an individual player might have a higher one-month value than in the past.

I think Musgrove is going to be a great barometer for this trade deadline. It’s one thing to give up international slot money for a speed and defense rental like Jarrod Dyson. It would be another thing to trade future pieces for 2+ years of a starting pitcher with no current season stats, and coming off an injury. The players with multiple years of control typically land the biggest return in a normal year, but will that still be the case in a season like this one.

My question for the comment section today: What type of return would you expect for Musgrove?

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