The Pirates have money to spend in free agency and a desire to be more aggressive than last year, GM Neal Huntington told Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Huntington admitted that former Pirates may be of interest, leading Kovacevic to speculate that lefty reliever John Grabow could be a target. Kovacevic also learned that outfielder Rick Ankiel is on the Pirates' radar.
A few weeks ago, we discovered that the Pirates will have less than $30MM committed heading into 2010 after beginning this season with a $48.7MM payroll.
Grabow may re-sign with the Cubs before reaching free agency. But if not, it's pointless for a team like the Pirates to spend even a few million on a walk-happy 32-year-old lefty reliever. The situation would only be compounded if the Cubs offer arbitration to Grabow, who projects as a Type A free agent.
Kovacevic suggests Ankiel's "superb athleticism is a potentially fine fit for PNC Park's spacious left field," and I agree. It's been a brutal year (.234/.286/.390), but Ankiel has suffered through groin and shoulder injuries. He'd be intriguing on a one-year deal in the $3MM range. Plus, such a signing would prove the Pirates can deal with Scott Boras despite last year's Pedro Alvarez drama (Chris Bootcheck's minor league deal notwithstanding).