Pirates Kicking The Tires On Ankiel & Blalock

The Pirates are believed to have already made contact with Scott Boras about two of his clients, free agents Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock, according to Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. The team's preference "is for a short-term contract aimed at allowing the player a chance at full-time duty to revive their careers."

With Andrew McCutchen in center and Lastings Milledge serving the default leftfielder, the idea is that late-bloomer Garrett Jones would play either first base or rightfield, depending on what the team does in the offseason. Kovacevic says that management's preference is for Jeff Clement to win the first base job, though bringing in Ankiel would put Jones at first, while bringing in Blalock would put Jones in right.

Kovacevic also adds that GM Neal Huntington has been cleared by team president Frank Coonelly to spend more, although no firm number was given. However, Huntington "expressed no urgency to do so, citing solely baseball reasons." The Pirates started 2009 with a $48.78MM payroll, and Tim had the team's projected 2010 obligation at less than half that in his Offseason Outlook, though that was prior to the Akinori Iwamura deal.  

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