The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a position that many teams are in every single year. Having to make a decision to be "buyers" or "sellers". They have to decide if they feel they have a real shot at contending for the division or if they think they will fade in the second half of the year.
The Pirates division this year has not gotten off to a good start or this decision would be a whole lot easier for them, they would surely be sellers. The defending champs, the Chicago Cubs, have gotten off to a rough start, but most expect them to pick it up in the second half of the season. If that is the case, the Pirates would not have near enough talent to stay paced with the Cubs, so the Pirates will surely be sellers this trade deadline, and they do have some pieces they can trade to get value for. Those names include: Gerrit Cole, Ivan Nova and fan favorite Andrew McCutchen.
Gerrit Cole would be the likelier of the two, to bring back a good return. Cole is 25, which is relatively young for a starting pitcher, who still has 2 arbitration eligible years before he becomes a free agent. Cole has had back to back down years, which have not lived up to his standards, considering his first three years in Pittsburgh, he pitched very well. He has had a rough start this year, with his team not getting him much run support, which has led to a couple of his losses. A change of scenery may be good for Cole as he has been in Pittsburgh for 5 years now. Teams that are looking for a pitcher who is going to be under control for the next couple years will definitely give the Pirates a call. Some of those teams could include the: Indians, Twins, Brewers, Cubs and maybe even the Yankees.
Ivan Nova is also another guy that could be on the move this trade deadline as well. Coming off a half of a good season with the Pirates last year after coming over from the Yankees, Nova is off to another good start this season. He is 9-6, with a 3.21 era in 18 starts. Nova is only owed about 18 million dollars over the next 2 seasons, which is not terrible for a team looking for another quality starting pitcher. Nova is 30 years old and by the time the Pirates have rebuilt, he will be closer to 35 than 30, so it may be a great time to deal him. The value they could get for him is most likely the highest it is going to get currently.
The last "big name" guy that is more than likely on the block, and I know Pirate fans do not want to hear it, is Andrew McCutchen. After last season, most thought McCutchen had played through his prime and was on his way down, batting .256 the entire season. He got off to another bad start this year and was moved to right field as they felt he could not play center field anymore. He has responded quite well. His batting average is up to .294 and he has 17 home runs and 50 RBIs. He is under contract through 2018, with a team option in 2018, where he only makes 14 million dollars. It is not a bad contract if he continues to bat the way he has been. He may not be able to play center field every day like he used to, but can play it if needed. Like Nova, this is most likely the best chance that the Pirates are going to have to trade McCutchen. His value will never be higher than it currently is and if they did not trade him, they would risk him getting hurt or declining. They could pay most of his remaining salary to the team who acquires him and get a better return.
Fans of teams never like to see players they have watched for years get traded, but it is the life of professional sports. It is not any easier for GMs to sometimes trade players than it is for fans to watch them go. This is the best time for the Pirates to make moves and they know that. They will not just make a move to make it, it will have to benefit them as well, but after seeing the White Sox get two of the Cubs best prospects for a young pitcher in Jose Quintana, the market may be set for them to get a good return on Cole and McCutchen, but will they pull the trigger on a deal?