Pirates Prepare To Pursue Free Agent Starters

Pirates president Frank Coonelly told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the team “must pitch far better in 2011” and confirmed that GM Neal Huntington will have money to spend on free agent arms. The Pirates, who had a $35MM payroll in 2010, could boost that above $50MM in 2011, Coonelly said.

Huntington anticipates “a low-supply, high-demand market" for starting pitching this offseason, so he’s apprehensive about over-committing and signing deals that look questionable in a few years.

"We know we've got some holes to fill and some money to be able to do it," Huntington said. "But, we'll still have to do it intelligently."

Huntington says he is open to signing pitchers to one-year deals or, under the right circumstances, multiyear contracts. The Pirates don’t have much certainty in their projected 2011 rotation, so they’ll explore ways of adding starters via trade and free agency.

32 Responses to Pirates Prepare To Pursue Free Agent Starters Leave a Reply

  1. They could use a good pitcher or two, but whoever they get is going to look like crap unless they improve their defense. Signing, say, Orlando Hudson, moving Walker back to his natural position at 3B and moving Alvarez to 1B could be a move that would fit their budget and would help the team more than the offensive numbers would indicate.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      Moving Alvarez to 1B already? Not sure that’s the best move going forward for the Pirates. Realize he was below average defensively….but he’s only 23. Plus, not like Walker is that great defensively at 3B.

      If I’m the Pirates….I consider moving Walker this winter. Yes, had a nice year….but also had a .340 BABIP which helped inflate his BA and OBP (which still wasn’t that great). He’s in line for a dropoff next year….

      • Good thought on Walker. His major league numbers this year were better than anything he ever put up in the minors. They’d have to get something good for him though or fans would revolt.

        • Pirates fans may be downtrodden but they aren’t dumb, once they see Walker isn’t a star in the making and put up normal numbers they should be okay with a trade….. if they get something good back. If the Buc’s just dumped Walker for no reason then sure, get upset, but getting a nice return shouldn’t upset anyone, especially since they’d be selling high on him.

      • walker hits the ball on the screws from foul pole to foul pole. not to mention hes great in the clutch

        • GrtSm1 5 years ago

          In the clutch? When you lose 105 games, there’s no such thing as clutch situations. He worked hard last offseason, and improved his skills, but I wouldn’t expect him to hit .300 again. Hitting .280 with 15HR power isn’t bad though, especially for a second baseman.

  2. invader3k 5 years ago

    Good luck with that. I can’t imagine too many free agents want to come to Pittsburgh. Seems like they’re always “a year or two away” from contending.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      Well if they are willing to spend, they could do it. Remember when the Royals suprised everyone by landing Gil Meche a few years back? They overpaid for him but got him.

      I think if they’re willing to shell out 3 years and an option they could land a guy like Carl Pavano. In the NL he should look even better than he did this year. He may prefer a contender….or may prefer more guaranteed years.

  3. bbxxj 5 years ago

    From a Frank Coonelly chat:

    “There is no question that we need to improve our pitching in 2011, particularly our starting rotation. … Of course, the free-agent market for starting pitchers is rather thin this offseason and thus there is no guarantee that we will be able to add a free-agent starter who will be able to impact our roster.

    Part of the solution, therefore, must be getting better performances from pitchers like Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, and, possibly, Charlie Morton and/or Brad Lincoln.”

    To me that sounds like they like what McDonald did last year so he is in and want better performances from Maholm and Ohlendorf but expect to see them back. He aslo was a bit non-commital about Morton and Lincoln so they may battle it out for the last spot in the rotation. That leaves one spot for a free agent or trade. Coonelly is saying the right there here that the pitching market is weak and what they can get on a reasonable deal isn’t really going to do much better than in house guys – so I’m expecting a trade.


    …is what I expect to see out of Pittsburgh at the begining of the season.

  4. Fangaffes 5 years ago

    Well, they could talk to the Red Sox about Ryan Doumit for young, cheap starters.

    • please please someone take doumit for anything .. bats, balls, a new vendor, slick fielding ball-boy anything. he is horrible, a born loser, and lazy

      • Fangaffes 5 years ago

        Cool. Bowden it is, then.

        • if youre gonna take doumits slalary then by all means help yourself.

          • joeycrist 5 years ago

            I laughed super hard at that one Matt I 100% agree I would take Bowden for Doumit without hesitation and laugh all the way home.

        • if youre gonna take doumits slalary then by all means help yourself.

  5. rockfordone 5 years ago

    Take 15M and start with 1 yr deals with options on pitching and defense. Garland, Webb, Chris Young, Correia. Get one or two. Bullpen – Rusch, Cruz, Balfour, Qualls – sign all.
    OF/1B – Kearns, Patterson, Thames, Glaus. Then sell some tickets and wait for kids.

  6. ATL_Mindset 5 years ago

    When I watch Pirates games it seems like they always draw a pretty good crowd. Are they keeping payroll low right now b/c there’s no point to have a high one? Once (more like ‘if’) they ever start competing, does anyone know what their ‘potential’ payroll could be for that type market?

  7. Dick_Cheney12 5 years ago

    Brandon Webb, Erik Bedard!

  8. Dick_Cheney12 5 years ago

    Brandon Webb, Erik Bedard!

  9. bigpat 5 years ago

    Wow, no wonder they haven’t won in 17 years. You guys are talking about trading Walker after one year in the majors. Who’s to say he’s playing over his head when he’s just started playing in the majors? No one knows what to expect from him yet. This was also the first year that he’s played second base, not just in the majors but probably in his whole baseball career, so he could get better with time. Good hitting second basemen aren’t easy to find so he needs to be held onto for a while. It would be a slap in the face to the fans and to Walker himself, who’s dreamed of playing for his home team, if he were traded already.

  10. Roy Munson 5 years ago

    “The Pirates, who had a $35MM payroll in 2010, could boost that above $50MM in 2011, Coonelly said.”””

    Ooooohhhhh Maybe they should sign a few more bums and push it to 60, and maybe win 62 games this year… And you say you don’t have any money and attendance is down… really????… shocker…

  11. Smrtbusnisman04 5 years ago

    Golden words Neil. I hope something gives and the Pirates obtain a solid SP this offseason.

    I’m calling this one:
    Garrett Jones to the Rays for Matt Garza/ James Shields.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      LOL!!!! Wow!

      Worst trade proposal EVER!

      Garrett Jones SUCKS. His OPS was .720 this year and his OBP was .306…..and he’ll be 30 already next season.

      He’d get you Andy Sonnanstine from the Rays, but the Rays would laugh the Pirates off the phone if they offered just that for Garza or Shields. The Rays would be better off just signing Russell Brayan as a free agent.

      I do think the Pirates are a nice fit for a trade for Garza or Shields….but Jones is not enough. Maybe Jones and Walker….and even that probably isn’t enough. Perhaps try and expand the deal to get a guy like Bartlett (move Cedeno to 2B). Would improve the infield defense.

      • derekbellstutu 5 years ago

        The Pirates and Rays make great trade partners. Going into the offseason, the Pirates need at least one starting pitcher and upgrades at SS and RF. The Rays need financial flexibility, relievers, and have 6-7 starters for 5 spots. The Pirates should offer Joel Hanrahan and minor leaguers Jeff Locke, Diego Moreno, and Robbie Grossman for Matt Garza and Reid Brignac. If the Rays insist on the Pirates taking Bartlett and his $4M+ salary instead of Brignac, then the Bucs should pull back Moreno or Grossman. The Pirates fill two needs and the Rays shed some payroll and get a closer to replace Rafael Soriano. The Rays shouldn’t be greedy in their next deal with the Pirates since they sold them damaged goods in the Aki Iwamura deal last year.

        The Bucs should then acquire James Loney from the Dodgers before he is potentially non-tendered. There will be a lot of competition for Loney if he is non-tendered. The Pirates haven’t fleeced Ned Colletti and the Dodgers since the Dotel-for-JMac-and Lambo deal, so maybe Zack Duke for Loney will get it done :)

      • Smrtbusnisman04 5 years ago

        Russel misused him. Take into consideration that the Pirates stretched him and tired him out. 604 plate appearances is way too much for a player with only a year of experience. He’s got 2 years before arbitration.

        I think Jones could be a very potent bat in an A.L. lineup (Especially one with Zobrist & Longoria). Just platoon him w/a righthanded bat and lower his Abs to 450, he can be a .270/.455/.340. Think of him as a cheaper more versatile 1B/OF/DH, comparable to Carlos Pena, who is a free agent this winter. Didn’t you win 90 games even with Pena batting .199 this year?

        Some of the deals i was thinking of were the Hamilton-Volquez, Garza- Delmon Young

        Walker and Jones for Garza is just a crime.

  12. Smrtbusnisman04 5 years ago

    Golden words Neil. I hope something gives and the Pirates obtain a solid SP this offseason.

    I’m calling this one:
    Garrett Jones to the Rays for Matt Garza/ James Shields.

  13. msr71 5 years ago

    How about we find a manager before we start thinking about all the starting pitchers we’re never going to sign? Pull your head out Neil !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      Doesn’t matter who your manager is if you have no pitching though.

  14. otjunk 5 years ago

    I find this quite interesting. If the Pirates really want pitching – do you think they would go for Cole or Purke in the draft? We’ve all heard that one should never draft for the immediate need – but sacrificing the 1st pick for the best pitcher in this case – will the Pirates really go down that road?

    • derekbellstutu 5 years ago

      I think the Pirates will select the best player available in the 2011 draft. If the Bucs decide to select a pitcher first overall, it won’t be with the intention of bringing him up that season. Personally, I don’t see them selecting a pitcher with the first pick. The Pirates need positional players in their farm system and Anthony Rendon seems to be a great choice for that pick, but it’s a long time between now and the June draft.

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