The Pirates had a relatively quiet trade deadline day, but they did make one small “buy” move before things wrapped up at 4 pm. While Pittsburgh is 51-54, it’s just 5 1⁄2 games behind the NL Central-leading Cubs and has a 5.5 percent chance to make the postseason, per FanGraphs.
The team acquired right-handed relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit and cash considerations from the Phillies in exchange for minor league righty Seth McGarry. Benoit should fill the void that was left by Tony Watson after he was traded to the Dodgers.
Since the Pirates both bought and sold rental players at the deadline, it is fair to evaluate them as standing pat. Still, they did give up a young — albeit unimpressive — arm to get Benoit.
If Pittsburgh isn’t trying to make a real run at the postseason, then why did it make this move? Really, it’s because the team needed someone to throw the baseball. It seems as if the Pirates thought they didn’t have enough bullpen arms in the high minors to really be able to finish out the 2017 season. Since Benoit is a free agent, he’s really just a depth move for them.
Still, in terms of 2017 fWAR, Benoit is an upgrade over Watson. The 40-year-old has posted a 0.5 fWAR over his 44 appearances. His peripherals are solid, as he has a 25.2 strikeout rate and a 9.4 walk rate over 42 innings pitched to go alongside his 4.07 ERA, which is fairly inflated. Benoit’s home run per fly ball rate is bound to go up, though, which may hurt his effectiveness going forward.
Postseason run or not, Benoit probably will not be in Pittsburgh long-term. The Phillies signed him to a one-year, $7.5 million deal with the intention of flipping him at the deadline — like they did today. Thus, as I already mentioned, Benoit will be a free agent this offseason. It’s still possible that he could pitch for a few more years before retirement; Benoit has been pretty effective in 2017.
In exchange for their aging righty, the Phillies received the Pirates’ eighth-round pick from the 2015 MLB Draft, Seth McGarry. Picked out of Florida Atlantic University, the now-23-year-old has advanced to High-A. This season, the reliever has thrown 40 1⁄3 innings, posting a solid 38:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a very good 0.843 WHIP. He has also gained some closing experience, saving 14 games.
This was a move that the Phillies had to make. They needed to deal Benoit for any return that they could get, and that’s exactly what transpired on deadline day with the Pirates.
Devan Fink is a Featured Writer for Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DevanFink.