Pirates Trade Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres

The Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets and San Diego Padres have completed a major trade that will send Joe Musgrove to the Padres, with five prospects returning to the Pirates. Here are the details from Ken Rosenthal. More to follow shortly.

Center fielder Hudson Head was a third round pick out of high school in 2019, who ranks eighth overall in the Padres system, which was a very strong one before they traded for Blake Snell and Yu Darvish last month. Baseball America has him as at least average tools across the board, with slightly above average marks in power and arm, and above average speed. He’s a 19-year-old lefty bat, who put up an .800 OPS in the Arizona Summer League in 2019, which is his only pro experience to date. MLB Pipeline has him ranked seventh in the Padres system. He received a $3M bonus to sign due to his five-tool potential, which includes above average bat speed and an advanced feel for hitting. He should have no issue sticking in center field. He’s clearly the top prospect here in this group.

Omar Cruz ranked 17th for the Padres. He’s about to turn 22 years old next week, a lefty pitcher out of Mexico with two seasons of experience. He had a 2.73 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over two levels of A-ball in 2019, making a total of 12 starts. He throws three pitches for strikes, led by a curve that gets graded as a 55 offering by Pipeline. His fastball sits low-90s and his changeup is at least average. While he has no plus offerings, Pipeline says that his command of his pitches helps him rate higher and gives him a chance to be a back-end starter in the majors.

David Bednar ranks 20th for Pipeline. He 26 years old and he was born in Pittsburgh. He has two partial seasons of big league time, but still has prospect eligibility.  In 17.1 innings over 17 appearances with the Padres, he has a 6.75 ERA, a 1.62 WHIP, and a 19:7 SO/BB ratio. He has a fastball that sat 95-96 in the majors and shows late life. Pipeline gives him average marks for his curve, and they rate his splitter as his best secondary pitch. His control/curve both rate as 45 grade, while the splitter is 50 and fastball is 60 grade.

Drake Fellows was a sixth round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2019, who has yet to debut in pro ball. He’s a 6’5″, 216 pounds, 22 (soon to be 23) year old starting pitcher. He throws a sinking fastball according to BA, which gets to 94 MPH and he has troubles so far commanding the pitch. He also has a plus slider, but his changeup is a fringe average pitch, so he could end up as a reliever.

Endy Rodriguez is a 20-year-old catcher, who hasn’t played above the GCL yet. Pipeline had him ranked #14 in the Mets system, rating his hitting and fielding slightly above average and his power and running slightly below average. He was a $10,000 signing in 2018, who has shown an advanced approach at the plate. He’s a switch-hitter, who Pipeline says has shown a better ability to drive the ball from the left side. While he’s a catcher, he’s also played first base and outfield, but clearly catcher has a better path for him in this system.

Much more on this trade coming up.

8:20 PM: Analysis from Tim Williams…

I’m going to be up most of the night watching videos of all of these new guys. I’ve got an article ready for the morning about the approach Cherington is taking. As for this trade, a few random thoughts while we’re looking over the full impact…

**The Pirates filled two needs by getting a center fielder and a catcher. Rodriguez instantly becomes the number one catching prospect in the system, which isn’t saying a lot. Right now the system contains mostly defensive backup types, with likely upsides in the third catcher range. There’s no one moving Rodriguez off the position, as long as he can play the spot. The outfield depth is depleted, and while the Pirates have some good center field options, you can never have too much depth. It wasn’t too long ago that the Pirates had some extremely good looking outfield depth, and we see how quickly that can be depleted. Hudson Head adds to the lower level outfield depth, joining guys like Sammy Siani and Solomon Maguire in the lower levels.

**I like that Cherington continues to go with lower level guys, banking on his development system. He’s going to need that system to produce better results than it did under Huntington. The adjustments the Pirates make in the minors will be crucial to all of these trades. A bad development system will make any of these moves look like a disaster. A good development system? Well, that could propel the Pirates back to the playoffs by 2023.

**That 2023 ETA is starting to be shared by a lot of prospects in the system. It looks like a window is opening.

**Of the pitchers, I like the upside Cruz provides. Bednar should get a shot at the MLB bullpen this year. Fellows is an interesting project as a 23-year-old who has yet to pitch in pro ball, has velocity, and poor control. You wonder how much the control may have improved for some of these guys, who had nothing to do in 2020 but work on mechanics and throw flat ground and bullpen sessions. Another key factor, which we’ll probably never really get to quantify or qualify, is the impact of the Pirates’ scouts in finding out who actually improved their game during the pandemic. I’m anticipating a massive year of playing catch up and seeing where everyone is at, which will also include updating the above reports.

**Prospect Guide update: We knew of the addition of the international guys last week, and were working to get that in the book as a last minute addition. I had saved the final edits in a way where I could add any Musgrove trade return to the book quickly. This has been a delayed process, with some creative changes that overhauled the entire book, and a lot of key moves that have impacted our top 50 in less than a month’s time. The Musgrove trade is now the official cutoff for the book, as I don’t see any events in the future that could drastically impact the top 50 or the book in general. I’m really excited to wrap this up, especially with the cloud of some wholesale changes to the system now removed. If you haven’t pre-ordered the book yet, you can do so in our shop. We had a preview of the book released a few weeks ago, showing the new design and approach.

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