The Pittsburgh Pirates have already changed presidents, general managers, and skippers this winter. Next, they figure to change players. If outfielder Starling Marte gets his way, he'll be among those heading to greener pastures ahead of spring training. Marte discussed his situation on Thursday with Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z 101 in the Dominican Republic. "[The Pirates] have the power to decide about my future," he told Gomez. "If it was for me I [would] leave for a team that is ready to compete right now on a World Series and that's not our case."
Nothing too jarring there -- most, if not all players would prefer to be on a contender. The surprise, if there is one, is that he would say the quiet part out loud. To be fair, Marte has to know he's better positioned than most to have his wish granted.
Now 31, Marte has up to two seasons and $24 million remaining on his contract (provided his club option gets exercised). Although he missed substantial time in 2017 due to a PED-related suspension, he's rebounded by hitting for a 117 OPS+ and stealing 58 bags the past two years. Marte's defense is probably better suited for a corner these days -- an amusing predicament, considering earlier in his career he was misplaced in a corner out of deference to Andrew McCutchen -- but that shouldn't be an issue.
Indeed, league sources indicated to CBS Sports in July that contenders had inquired on Marte's availability. The Pirates, then led by Neal Huntington, clearly didn't get an offer to their liking. But with Ben Cherington now in charge, it's possible (if not likely) that changes. After all, the Pirates are likely to undergo a rebuild or at least a retooling over the next 12-plus months; Marte, a quality veteran on a team-friendly contract, would seem to have more value elsewhere than to Pittsburgh.
Gomez, for his part, asked Marte about a potential trade to the New York Mets. It seems unlikely, based on their farm system, that the Mets would offer enough to land Marte. Who might make sense for Marte? We're just speculating here, but the San Diego Padres, Cleveland, Texas Rangers, and Tampa Bay Rays all seem like reasonable guesses.