The Pirates will listen to offers on center fielder Starling Marte, although to this point there’s no traction toward any sort of a trade, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets. That Marte would be available with two years of club control remaining comes as no surprise. If anything, prior suggestions that he wouldn’t be moved this winter (which came under the previous front office regime) were more unexpected. Marte himself has since even gone on record to state that he’d be open to being dealt to a contending club.
The $24M Marte can earn over the next two seasons — $11.5M salary in 2020, $12.5M option for 2021 — is an expensive sum for the perennially low-spending Pirates but an affordable rate for many others throughout the league. The Pittsburgh organization also just overhauled its front office and field staff on the heels of a disastrous 93-loss season and doesn’t seem likely to contend in 2020. Listening on Marte is to be expected, which is why he checked in near the top of MLBTR’s most recent inventory of baseball’s top trade candidates. The Pirates, Heyman notes, would like to add a high-end catching prospect by some means this winter (although they’ll have other players to market beyond Marte).
There’s every reason to think that interest in Marte will be robust in the coming weeks (or possibly months). The best center fielders in free agency are Brett Gardner, who seems likely to return to the Yankees, and a wild-card option in Japanese star Shogo Akiyama. Other trade candidates could certainly crop up on the market, but few would be able to match Marte’s level of production and relatively affordable control.