PITTSBURGH - There are two weeks until MLB's non-waiver trading deadline, and it's not trending well for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Any market is subject to the laws of supply and demand, and that's working against the Pirates.
The supply of available players is lower than usual, and the demand is high.
With a second wild card added to the postseason field, a lot of teams think they're in the hunt.
That means there aren't as many teams looking to unload players, and there are more seeking that extra pitcher or extra bat to gain an edge in the second half of the season.
"It's definitely a seller's market," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said the other day.
Teams that are able to make a significant addition will pay a premium. When the Pirates talk to other teams, most ask about pitching prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.
The Pirates are reluctant to part with either, believing that both Cole and Taillon have the potential to be top-of-the-rotation starters. Neither has any major league service time, so the Pirates would have them under control for six years, and possibly seven.
How appealing is it to think of two solid starters on the same team with Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez?
The Pirates could be setting up for the kind of run they had in the late 1980s and early '90s, when they contended in four of five seasons and won the division title three times.
As great as the first half of this season was, Huntington has to be realistic about the Pirates.
They're an improved team, but they are not presently a legitimate championship contender.
They're not an old team that needs to gear up for one last run.
It's the opposite: They're a club ready to step up and start a run of success.
It's always a dilemma for teams. You can't get locked into thinking next year will be the big one. Do that and you're always waiting and never taking advantage of the moment.
But the Pirates can't recklessly abandon the plan just because they're within striking distance at the moment, even with a flawed team.
Huntington has to keep looking and talking as the deadline nears.
But he has to keep his best prospects.
This is bigger than the second half of the 2012 season.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org