Pirates’ Clint Hurdle, Neal Huntington recognize human side of trade deadline
Francisco Liriano has been traded four times, three times in the lead-up to the trade deadline –including once by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Melky Cabrera has been dealt three times as a major-leaguer himself; he’s changed teams seven times.
The two men combine for more than 70 years of life and 29 seasons in the majors. In other words, they’ve seen it all. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle knows there isn’t too much advice or counsel he can offer to Cabrera and Liriano when it comes to dealing with the nervous days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
“The conversations can be had,” Hurdle said Sunday, “but a lot of guys don’t need it. And my thing is I don’t need to get the team together to have a conversation that only will affect three or four guys.”
After another loss Sunday, the Pirates are increasingly looking as if they will be “sellers” over the next 10 days. With the current makeup of their roster, that means the veteran, expiring-contract type players such as Cabrera, Liriano, Corey Dickerson and Jordan Lyles perhaps are the most likely to go.
And while, in theory, anybody is in play to be traded, let’s face it, the Pirates aren’t going to be dealing Josh Bell or Bryan Reynolds to anyone at the deadline. But someone like Felipe Vazquez? Who knows?
And all of it has a human element for Hurdle and how he manages his clubhouse – and, to a lesser extent, how Huntington deals with the players, too.
Hurdle said he might have conversations with players who perhaps are on the bubble to be dealt or could be having anxiety about the waiting to see if they will be.
Neal Huntington says Pirates ‘still working through’ whether to be deadline buyers or sellershttps://t.co/fHGcUpUeCF
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) July 21, 2019
Neal Huntington’s job is different – in part, because as general manager he is the one who executes the trades, in part because keeping all information in-house aids him in making better ones and in part because as a non-uniformed member of the organization, it’s clearly more Hurdle’s job to communicate with the players.
But does Huntington have a policy of completely keeping players in the dark if he is having discussion about trading one of them? If a player came to him to ask him if he was working on a deal, would he be honest?
“I haven’t volunteered information (to a player),” Huntington said. “The hard part is there’s so much speculation out there that it would be impossible for me to chase down every rumor. As I think I’ve admitted in the past, there were a few situations where I probably should have addressed the player because of the rumors. You can’t chase down every single rumor, and if you chase down only the false ones, then the ones that you don’t chase down get validated. That’s the hard part.
“It is a tough time. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a player’s son and to read that your dad may be traded, because that’s going to impact you. That’s real, and that’s sometimes something that gets lost in the shuffle here.
“We would be open with our players, but there’s a lot of unknown. We’ve been in situations where we thought we were one phone call away from completing a trade and it never got completed. There have been situations where we made a phone call, really just putting a toe in the water, and it led to a significant trade. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Even the information that you’d want to give to a player, until it’s real, it’s hard to say that it’s going to happen or not happen.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .