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Young talent keeps Bucs in position to compete

Pirates 'ready to defy odds' after acquiring multiple prospects for Cole, Cutch
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Over the last three days, the Pirates traded Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, the star player and pitcher for Pittsburgh's postseason teams from 2013-15. In return came a bundle of young talent the Bucs hope will lead them back to the playoffs in the near future.

The Pirates have shied away from the term "rebuild," even after trading Cole to the Astros and McCutchen to the Giants. They prefer to say they're "retooling" their roster, adding young players with an eye on competing this year and seriously contending as soon as 2019.

PITTSBURGH -- Over the last three days, the Pirates traded Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, the star player and pitcher for Pittsburgh's postseason teams from 2013-15. In return came a bundle of young talent the Bucs hope will lead them back to the playoffs in the near future.

The Pirates have shied away from the term "rebuild," even after trading Cole to the Astros and McCutchen to the Giants. They prefer to say they're "retooling" their roster, adding young players with an eye on competing this year and seriously contending as soon as 2019.

"In our minds, a rebuild implies you're looking five years down the road," general manager Neal Huntington said. "This team is going to show up ready to go in Spring Training, ready to compete, ready to defy odds, just like that 2013 Pirates team did."

To that end, Pittsburgh parted ways with McCutchen on Monday -- and covered $2.5 million of his $14.5 million salary -- and received 25-year-old reliever Kyle Crick, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and $500,000 in international bonus pool space from San Francisco.

Video: Callis on Pirates' top prospects from Cutch trade

Crick and Reynolds join a growing group of new, young Pirates that also includes their four-player return for Cole: third baseman Colin Moran, outfield prospect Jason Martin and right-handers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz. That base of young talent could continue to expand as the Pirates consider more trades involving other veterans, likely including super-utility man Josh Harrison.

Video: Callis discusses the return in the Gerrit Cole trade

"At the end of the day, we needed to come back to, 'How do we bring talent in for the long haul in this organization?'" Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said on Monday. "How do we make sure that we're building a sustainable winner? How do we do the right thing for this franchise over time?"

Reynolds is now the Pirates' No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and should begin next season in Double-A. Moran, their No. 5 prospect, will be their regular third baseman. Martin, No. 19, could begin the season in Double-A or Triple-A. Crick, No. 25, should crack their Opening Day bullpen. Musgrove and Feliz, young but no longer prospects, will be on the big league staff.

"There's a lot of young, talented players that are going to be entertaining," Huntington said. "This is going to be a fun group to grab a hold of. We have talented players that are also really good people."

The Pirates acquired a potential everyday outfielder in Reynolds, 22, the Giants' second-round Draft pick out of Vanderbilt University in 2016. The switch-hitting center fielder slashed .312/.364/.462 in 121 games for Class A Advanced San Jose last season.

"Bryan Reynolds is an intelligent athlete that has a really intriguing combination of tools and skills," Huntington said. "We like his bat-power combination projection. We like what he does on the bases. We like what he does on defense."

Crick, 25, was the 49th overall pick in the 2011 Draft. Command issues in the Minors forced him to the bullpen, where he made his big league debut for the Giants last season. The hard-throwing right-hander posted a 3.06 ERA and 3.90 FIP, striking out 28 batters and walking 17 in 32 1/3 innings over 30 appearances.

"Kyle Crick is a power-armed former premium prospect, Major League-ready player that's ready to step in and help this team win games," Huntington said. "It's a power fastball. It's a good breaking ball. It's the ability to get swing-and-misses, induce soft contact."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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