Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette informs us that while it may be an unlikely scenario, general manager Neal Huntington does have the payroll flexibility to make a big move at the meetings if he sees value in it for the Pirates. Says Huntington:
"The key word you're going to be hearing from us is value… We could do something big just so that we can feel good about ourselves and show everybody that we did something or that we're spending up to a certain level. But we're not going to do that unless it makes sense and unless there's a real value to the Pittsburgh Pirates."
The Pirates are currently projected to have a $34MM payroll, down significantly from the $49MM they spent on their 40-man roster in 2009. So the "value" that Huntington mentions doesn't necessarily have to mean "inexpensive."
Still, Kovacevic calls any real interest in Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Rich Harden, or Mike Gonzalez "unlikely," and reminds us that the Pirates free agent contact so far has consisted of Rick Ankiel, Hank Blalock, Justin Duchscherer, Noah Lowry, J.J. Putz, Ron Villone, and Kameron Loe.
Danny Knobler from CBS Sports seems to think the Pirates have some money as well though, as he's heard them linked to Juan Pierre. Knobler reports that the Dodgers would like to acquire Zach Duke or Paul Maholm in any deal, meaning they'd have to eat a significant portion of Pierre's salary. Personally, I'd assume they'd have to include some prospects as well to make the deal make sense for Pittsburgh.
While the Pierre scenario may not entirely make sense for the Buccos on the surface level, it does add to the thought that Pittsburgh may be in line to surprise us at this year's meetings. Any thoughts on an ace that Huntington may have up his sleeve?