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.

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