Pirates star outfielder Starling Marte suspended 80 games


After Pittsburgh came into Chicago and swept the reigning champs, Ben Zobrist called the Pirates the Cubs' top competition in the National League Central.

This may throw a wrench into that plan:

Here's the thing: Even if the Pirates are able to scrap together a solid season and make the playoffs, Marte won't be eligible to participate in the postseason due to the rules of MLB suspensions:


That is a monster blow to the Pirates who have deployed Marte in the heart of their order for the last four-plus seasons in which he's put together a .292/.349/.448 slash line along with 20.7 WAR.

Marte, 28, is one of the best outfielders in the game and the Pirates actually moved face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen from center field into right and moved Marte to the more-demanding outfield position in an effort to improve the team's defense.

This is sure to impact the division throughout the rest of the season with the St. Louis Cardinals off to a rough 4-9 start and while the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers woke up Tuesday morning leading the NL Central, they're a pair of rebuilding clubs who are likely to trade away some of their top players before August hits.

Marte's suspension could also impact the Pirates' trade talks and might be enough to spin the Bucs from buyers to sellers. With the postseason prospects taking a major hit, the Pirates front office may opt to trade away McCutchen, who can become a free agent after this season.

The Cubs are not off to the start they've wanted, either, but this Marte news just made their road to a second straight division title a little easier.

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