But the Pirates' perspective leading up to the trade deadline might already be shaped -- by the Chicago Cubs, who have built a whopping nine-game lead over the Cardinals and 11 games over the Pirates.
Unless the Cubs plummet from their record pace of success and surrender the biggest division lead in the majors, the best that the Pirates could vie for this season could be another wild-card game, for the fourth straight year.
With that in mind, it seems highly unlikely that the Pirates would make a big investment in a short-term trade target -- a player who can only help them this year, before reaching free agency. Rather, it would probably make more sense for Pittsburgh to focus in trade talks on players who could help them in 2017 -- relievers with service time that ties them to Pittsburgh for more than just this year.
From ESPN Stats & Info: The Pirates' offense has seen a dip in production. Since May 31, the Pirates as a team are hitting only .225, which is fifth-worst in the majors.
The Pirates are meticulous about trying to find a way to move forward, writes Tyler Kepner.