Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

You have to hand it to Pirates general manager Ben Cherington. He’s determined to make Pittsburgh a contender.

In 2025.

Cherington made his second trade in as many days Monday. About 24 hours after agreeing to send All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier to the San Diego Padres for three prospects, he shipped relief pitcher Clay Holmes to the New York Yankees for two minor-league infielders, Hoy Park and Diego Castillo.

The Frazier deal is the biggie here. Getting anything for Holmes, a serviceable, at best, reliever is a no-lose proposition for the Pirates. More trades seem likely before Friday’s deadline, with closer Richard Rodriguez being prime trade bait.

Both the Frazier and Holmes trades were made with an eye toward the future. Way into the future.

That’s not a bad thing. Cherington has a plan and he’s sticking to it. He knows the Pirates aren’t good and won’t be any time soon. So he’s willing to trade anything of value that is not nailed down and get something in return, players who could help make the Pirates a winner in the future. You saw this same strategy used with the Joe Musgrove and Josh Bell trades.

Tear everything down and build from scratch is not a new strategy in baseball. It’s the same blueprint that the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs used with success, resulting in World Series championships.

The only problem is what happens when all those prospects the Pirates accumulated in trades, and from having top-5 draft picks, get to the majors leagues and start producing? The Astros added to their group of young players by acquiring proven pitchers Gerrit Cole (from the Pirates) and Zack Greinke. The Cubs dealt for relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman.

When talking about the Pirates’ start-over-from-scratch approach, MLB Network’s Dan Plesac said last weekend that the Pirates “will never be able to take on the payroll that the Astros and Cubs did. Never.”

At 29, Frazier wasn’t considered a piece of the Pirates’ future. And it’s unlikely that he will have a 2022 season that matches his performance this year, so his trade value might never be higher. Getting three players in exchange for Frazier made it easier for Cherington to agree to the deal.

Pirates fans hope the trade works out better than the deal that sent Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton to Milwaukee in exchange for Jose Hernandez, Bobby Hill and Matt Bruback. Acquiring prospects for a proven major leaguer is always a crapshoot. Sometimes you hit the lottery – as Tampa Bay did when it fleeced the Pirates in the Chris Archer trade – and sometimes you go bust.

We won’t know who won this round of Pirates trades until about 2025.

n The Cleveland Indians knew for two years that they were changing their nickname and the best idea they came up with was Guardians. Really.

There have been reports that Spiders were seriously considered, but Cleveland had a baseball team called the Spiders and it produced a 20-134 record in 1899, so it was nixed.

Rockers was also considered but it sounds too much like Rockies.

n One promotional night for next baseball season that some marketing guy has to be working on already is Catholic Night at the first Guardians-Angels game.

Sports editor Chris Dugan can be reached at dugan@observer-reporter.com.

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