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MLB Trade Deadline: Travis Snider an Upgrade by Default for Pittsburgh Pirates

Travis Snider sneaks into the Pirates' outfield at the MLB Trade Deadline (while wearing a mustache.)
Travis Snider sneaks into the Pirates' outfield at the MLB Trade Deadline (while wearing a mustache.)

When the Toronto Blue Jays got Colby Rasmus last year at the trade deadline, adopting the St. Louis Cardinals' unpopular former outfield super-prospect, it was good news for just about everybody in Toronto except their own former outfield super-prospect, Travis Snider. Snider's been surplus to the Blue Jays' pull-everything plans ever since, and now he's on his way to the NL Central; he's the Pittsburgh Pirates' newest slumping corner outfielder, gone to PNC Park for Brad Lincoln.

Right now I'm not really seeing the downside for the Pirates. In exchange for a 27-year-old who was never able to crack the Pirates' rotation—and who is now an admittedly exciting reliever—the Pirates get a chance to upgrade their awful corner outfield play, paced so far by sub-.700 OPSes from Alex Presley and Jose Tabata.

This is a good move for a team like the Pirates, who've surprised everyone including themselves by contending; they haven't traded off any valuable assets for a rental, they've just traded team control of one interesting but flawed player for another.

Snider's got a career line of .248/.306/.429 in 242 games in Toronto, which would itself be an upgrade for the 2012 Pirates (who are, you will remember, somehow still ahead of the Cardinals.) He's had enough huge half-seasons in the Pacific Coast League that nobody quite expects his .335/.423/.598 line in Las Vegas to stick, but in exchange for a set-up man the Pirates just got a guy who's hitting .335/.423/.598 in AAA Coors Field. There's value there.