The Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers have screwed the New York Yankees before, especially recently.
The Pirates rebuffed the Yankees’ *better* reported trade offer for Gerrit Cole, and instead sent him to the Astros for a package of five non-impact players. Oh, wait, actually, there was one in that deal, but they ended up trading Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres this past offseason anyway.
As for the Tigers? They also handed the Astros Justin Verlander in a deal that effectively made MLB nix August waiver trade dealings. Another package of nothingness for a future Hall of Famer. Thanks, guys.
And now, believe it or not, these two teams could do it again! But this time, the beneficiary would be the Boston Red Sox.
The 2021 MLB Draft is approaching this July and two of the best pitching prospects we’ve seen in quite some time will be there for the taking atop this year’s event.
With the No. 1 overall selection, the Pirates will have their pick of the litter. At No. 3, the Tigers will still have plenty of top talent to choose from. However, ESPN’s latest mock draft has neither of them selecting Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter or Kumar Rocker.
The Yankees could get screwed if the Red Sox select Kumar Rocker.
The Rangers are projected to take Leiter at No. 2 … but the Pirates and Tigers are both slated to take … high school shortstops, who could opt to go back to college. Doesn’t this feel like idiocy? Why would NEITHER of these pitching-starved franchises take one of the obvious home runs?
Leiter and Rocker are both plowing through the SEC and play for a pitching factory in Vanderbilt. We’re watching them mow down the top competition in the country. Their highlights are all over social media. Why not acquire a known commodity instead of a shortstop you won’t see in the bigs for another 5-6 years?
Let’s look at the numbers, too:
- Jack Leiter: 9-2 with a 2.03 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 128 strikeouts in 15 career games (14 starts), totaling 80 innings
- Kumar Rocker: 25-7 with a 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 252 strikeouts in 34 career games (31 starts), totaling 188.2 innings
The Pirates and Tigers passing on one or both of these guys would gift the Red Sox one of the best college pitching prospects the league has seen in quite some time. Why would two of the most downtrodden franchises let this happen and help the 2018 World Series champs?
Boston gamed the system, tanked in 2020, and got a favorable draft pick this year in what’s going to be a loaded class. Even worse? There’s a good chance they capitalize on poor decision making and torture the Yankees for the next decade.