Offseason In Review: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are next in our Offseason In Review series.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses


The Pirates ramped up their free agent spending this offseason, adding three significant big league contracts and plenty of interesting players on minor league deals for new manager Clint Hurdle.  GM Neal Huntington also cut ties with a trio of disappointing arbitration eligible players in Duke, Milledge, and LaRoche.

CorreiaThough the signing did not generate national headlines, the Correia deal was significant for the Pirates franchise.  It had been 12 years since the Bucs signed a domestic free agent pitcher to a multiyear deal.  Why take this leap for 2011?  Correia is a sleeper, a relatively young righty who can get groundballs and hopefully supply 200 innings.  If he can regain his '09 form, he'll step in as the staff leader as Paul Maholm's Pirates tenure winds down.

The Pirates' 2011 rotation could feature Correia, Olsen, and James McDonald, all recent additions.  Duke is gone, and while Maholm is penciled in he's probably trade bait.  Huntington took over as Pirates GM in September of 2007, and for all his machinations over the last three-plus years he hasn't brought in any decent Major League starting pitching aside from Ross Ohlendorf.  Plus, the Pirates overestimated what they had by giving multiyear deals to Maholm and Ian Snell.  The next two waves of starting pitching must transform the Pirates, with McDonald, Bryan Morris, Rudy Owens, and Jeff Locke in the near-term and Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, and Luis Heredia further down the road.

The Pirates had to overpay a bit to secure Overbay and Diaz, though both veterans have limited upside.  In the best case Overbay hits like he did over the season's final four months (.261/.351/.458) and a Diaz/Garrett Jones right field platoon plays to each player's strength.  I can't envision either Overbay or Diaz being flipped for anything significant, so these might be respectability signings.  Those types of acquisitions haven't worked out well for the Pirates, with Akinori Iwamura and Ramon Vazquez coming to mind.

I'm more intrigued by the Pirates' minor deals.  Beimel and Veras should augment the bullpen at minimal commitments, while Marte, Fields, and Atkins were all highly-regarded third basemen in years past.  The Pirates didn't have success trying to upgrade over Ronny Cedeno at shortstop, though they reportedly checked in on J.J. Hardy, Jason Bartlett, and Brendan Ryan.  Rule 5 pick Rodriguez should have a big league future, whether at shortstop or second base.  Anything Valdez provides is a plus, since the Bucs were set to non-tender Duke anyway.

The Pirates have yet to top 67 wins in a season during Huntington's tenure, and have an active streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons.  Milledge and LaRoche were supposed to become solid regulars, but both have already been cut loose.  Formerly extended players Ryan Doumit and Paul Maholm are nearing the end of their Pirates careers as well.  Pirates fans are probably in for two or three more years of stopgap veterans, though position player talent is on the rise with Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, and Neil Walker.  If Huntington is to last to see Taillon's big league debut, he'll need the aforementioned second wave of starting pitching to break through to some extent in 2011.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

77 Responses to Offseason In Review: Pittsburgh Pirates Leave a Reply

  1. Saying it right now, Pirates vs Orioles – 2011 World Series

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Saying it right now, Pirates vs Orioles – 2011 World Series (to see who drafts first overall?)

      • Guest 4 years ago

        oh, your going to get it from Orioles fans. hahahahah

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          Cal Ripken Rules!!!

          does that make it any better???

          • Guest 4 years ago

            yeah, i think your good now. Good save!

            If the Orioles traded for Hinske, then I think they’d be World Series contenders. Till then, “the first overall selection in the 2011 Draft…the Orioles select…..”

          • Holidayjesus 4 years ago

            “Cal Ripken JR “JR” ”

          • Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

            The Pirates have the 1st overall selection PERMINENTLY!

            And I doubt either team will be bad enough to take the 2012 #1 position from Cleveland.

        • Rabbitov 4 years ago

          Lol no way. Through the past 15 years the only thing that has been keeping Os fans going is us saying “thank goodness we aren’t the Pirates.”

          • bigsweens38 4 years ago

            yeah,but at least the pirates don’t have to spend a 100 million to suck.

          • The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

            True, but the O’s are still making more money with more fans and revenue than the Pirates.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            but its offset by their payroll. duh

          • Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

            If Pedro Alvarez can hit 40-45 homeruns, just watch how fast are tickets sales will SKYROCKET!!

      • Holidayjesus 4 years ago

        LOL, that made my day. I wonder how many people would actually watch that World Series. I could see it now on the Dan Patrick Show.

    • Hey man hope springs eternal.

    • I could see the Orioles putting together a run but not the Pirates. If the players the O’s signed find the fountain of youth and the rotation holds up they could contend.

    • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

      Royals fans are going to be outraged at this comment. It’s quite clearly going to be Pirates vs Royals.

      • Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

        Two of the BEST farm systems in Baseball.

    • The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

      Lol that would be the lowest rated world series ever.

  2. progmatinee 4 years ago

    They also hired a new manager by the name of Clint Hurdle…

  3. bbxxj 4 years ago

    I know its easy and ‘funny’ to make fun of the Pirates but I do like what Huntington has done with the org considering the trash he was given a few years ago. He dismantled the ML team – that wasn’t winning anything anyways – and has poured it into the minor leagues even if much of his return on his marginal ML talent hasn’t been great and has poured money into the draft and international signings. The Pirates will be bad again this year but not as bad as last year and their arrow is definately up considering the young positional talent in the majors and the pitching in the pipeline.

    • Yeah but the key is to get 2-3 years out of your draft choices before they sign with the Yankees.

      • bbxxj 4 years ago

        I know you are trying to make a joke but they get at least six years of team control before the Yanks can touch them.

  4. You know were in trouble when Kevin Correia is seen as our stud free agent signing

    • Jeff Weissbuch 4 years ago

      He is not a stud but he is better than what they have had in a long time

  5. daveineg 4 years ago

    Pirates actually finally have a decent core in McCutcheon, Walker, Alvarez, and while one or two of the arms they added might be marginally better than the departed Duke, it’s unlikely they’ll progress beyond a 68 or so win plateau because the division has gotten a lot tougher and adding guys like Overbay doesn’t cut it.

    • Todd Smith 4 years ago

      Last year’s opening day lineup: Akinori Iwamura, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit, Lastings Milledge, Jeff Clement, Andy LaRoche, Zach Duke, Ronny Cedeno.

      This year’s likely opening day lineup: Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Lyle Overbay, Garrett Jones, Chris Snyder, Ronny Cedeno, Not Zack Duke. I’d say things have improved significantly.

      • Rabbitov 4 years ago

        The Pirates could have been good a long time ago if management would stop trading away their best players for awful return packages.

        • Todd Smith 4 years ago

          Yeah. Imagine if the Pirates still had Nate McLouth, Jason Bay, Ian Snell, Xavier Nady and Jack Wilson. World Series would be a lock.

          • Rabbitov 4 years ago

            Read it again: The Pirates could have been good a long time ago if management would stop trading away their best players “for awful return packages.”

          • Todd Smith 4 years ago

            Read it again: Look who they traded away. You think they are going to get top prospects for Jack Wilson? The Pirates have been doing a good job of selling high on bad players and getting good prospects in return. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have Jose Tabata and Ross Ohlendorf than Xavier Nady right now. I’d rather have Lambo and McDonald than Octavio Dotel right now. I’d rather have Bryan Morris than Jason Bay right now. I’d rather have a bag of balls than Nate McLouth and Ian Snell on my team right now.

            To sit here and act like they should have gotten Jason Heyward back for Nate McLouth is a little foolish, don’t you think?

          • pirateswillwinin2013 4 years ago

            To get Locke, Hernandez and Morton for McLouth is theft…even if Hernandez and Morton don’t work out Locke is going to be a very good Major League pitcher… and I think Hernandez and Morton are going to have bounce back years. Especially Morton…Searage did a good job with him and Chris Snyder helped him out tremendously, if you don’t let Morton use his brain and shake off pitches, he will actually be decent this year.

          • Todd Smith 4 years ago

            I wouldn’t be surprised if Gorkys puts up better numbers at AAA this year than Nate.

          • Todd Smith 4 years ago

            Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a Pirate trade…

            In 1997, the Pirates purchased the contract of Ricardo Rincon from the Mexico City Reds.
            In 1998, the Pirates traded Rincon to the Indians for Brian Giles.
            In 2003, the Pirates traded Giles to the Padres for Jason Bay and Oliver Perez.
            In 2006, the Pirates traded Perez to the Mets for Xavier Nady.
            In 2008, the Pirates traded Jason Bay to the Red Sox for a package including Bryan Morris.
            In 2008, the Pirates traded Xavier Nady to the Yankees for a package including Jose Tabata and Ross Ohlendorf.

            I’m not convinced that this is something they need to put a stop to.

          • bucco_nation 4 years ago


          • Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

            2003- Aramis Ramirez traded to the Cubs for Bobby Hill.

            I found our loophole- Black Monster

          • Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

            You mean like the Bobby Hill for Aramis Ramirez trade?

          • Jeff Weissbuch 4 years ago

            Remember those were the 1927 Yankees you were making fun of.

  6. Steven St Croix 4 years ago

    Snyder seems to get lost since Pitt got him at the deadline. He is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball and if healthy, can hit 20 bombs and drive in 75-80.

  7. disgustedcubfan 4 years ago

    The Pirates may not be very good, but PNC may be the best ballpark in the N.L.

    • I would have to disagree, Marlins play in a state of the art ballpark.

      I’m microwaving Easy Mac as we speak!

      • Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

        You mean their new ballpark, which is opening in 2012? or do you mean the crap dump they live in now?

    • It’s a good park but in terms of overall fan experience, St Louis, Atlanta, and Philly are top notch in the NL. Minnesota, Seattle and Boston top my AL stadiums. The Mariners and Twins really have some incredibly fan friendly facilities!

    • bucco_nation 4 years ago

      thank you


  8. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    Lyle Overbay will probably have a pretty decent season I’m betting…

    and continue to make Jays fans everywhere sick.

    • LioneeR 4 years ago

      Pittsburgh, where everyone should play their butts off in order to be traded to a contender at the deadline.

  9. Pittsburgh would be the perfect place for the long-awaited comeback of Oil Can Boyd.

  10. NYBravosFan10 4 years ago

    Make whatever joke you want at the bucs but I’m going on record for saying that they’re gonna be good soon. Same with the Royals. It might sound crazy right now but I don’t think Pirates vs. Royals for the world series is too far off….unless both teams dismantle their minor league teams that is…

  11. SpeedS28 4 years ago

    I couldn’t bring myself to read the whole article about the Pirates because I’m not that interested in them. However, it would be good for the National League to have the Pirates relevant again especially with that gem of a stadium.

  12. Pirates fans, on a scale of 1-10 how excited are you for the upcoming 2011 season!??!

    • pirateswillwinin2013 4 years ago

      10, always excited for Pirates Baseball no matter what, a lot of Pirates fans that are left aren’t bandwagon people. We see the light at the end of the tunnel because of Neal and Frank have done with the Draft and some decent trades. This year is excited cause we get to see McCutchen turn into a Super Star, and watch Alvarez, Walker and Tabata grow up and see what they really can do. Then we get to see our first wave of good pitching prospects come up in Rudy Owens, Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke and Justin Wilson, and possibly some other prospects in Andrew Lambo , Daniel Moskos, Diego Moreno, etc. So yea im Very excited for this season..10 out of 10

      • pirateswillwinin2013 4 years ago

        oh we also get to Draft Anthony Rendon or Mattew Purke in June too, ADD another Top Prospect to the list. So make that 11 out of 10.

    • Todd Smith 4 years ago

      This is the most excited I’ve been in a long time. The last few years, I was more interested in keeping up with the minor league teams, spring training and September call-ups. This year, there is a lot of talent on the major league roster to get excited about. Just looking at the difference between the opening day roster this year compared to last year – it’s a huge difference. I can’t even remember the last time the Pirates had this kind of talent coming up through the system all at the same time.

      Not that I think the Pirates are going to be a playoff contender this year or anything – but there should be some significant improvement with Pedro, Tabata, McDonald and Walker all playing their first full season in the majors. They were already a .500 team at home last year…if they can just straighten out that road record, the streak could be finished.

      • Good to hear. Pirates fans should have a 10 level of excitement. Why? Becuase that defines a true fan! Winner or loser, you have to support your team!!

    • I’ll say 9, for these 9 reasons:

      Neil Walker > Aki Iwamura, Pedro Alvarez > Andy LaRoche, Lyle Overbay > Jeff Clement, Jose Tabata > Lastings Milledge, Garrett Jones/Matt Diaz > Ryan Church, Chris Snyder > Ryan Doumit, Kevin Correia > Zach Duke, Evan Meek/Joel Hanrahan > Octavio Dotel, and of course, another full season of Andrew McCutchen in CF.

      I guess I’m saying I’m happy because they’ve upgraded nearly everywhere, except SS, but at least they tried. Plus it’ll be fun to see which one of the next wave of young pitchers makes their way to PGH first.

      Yeah, life as a Pirates fan hasn’t been easy as of late, but it’s getting better and that’s reason enough to be happy. That, and the fact that it could easily be much worse…

    • Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

      6 – A full year of Mcutchen, Tabata, Walker, Alvarez, and Snyder along with the wise knowledge of Clint Hurdle, will be awesome!!!

  13. $5822868 4 years ago

    The Bucs seem to be making the right steps finally. Although they are a couple seasons away from breaking through the ‘500’ mark. This depends on not trading their core players and players like Sanchez,Tallion, and Allie actually fulfilling their potential.

    • The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

      That is what the Pirates problem has been, guys actually fufilling their potential. They have had way too many draft busts.

      • $5822868 4 years ago

        But for the Bucs it is a better alternative than throwing good money out for bad. A couple of recent examples are Sean Casey and Adam LaRoche.

      • Todd Smith 4 years ago

        I don’t even know if I’d go so far as to even call them busts – I think the Pirates intentionally drafted players with low ceiling and not much potential during the Dave Littlefield era. His philosophy was to ignore the draft, ignore international free agents, and just sign some 1 year rentals that were on the wrong side of their primes to try to squeak out a .500 season.

        I’ll never forget the day that Dave Littlefield announced that they had selected Bryan Bullington with the #1 overall pick in the draft, and that he saw him as a future back of the rotation guy.

        I have much more faith in Huntington drafting with his track record the last three years. I mean, Littlefield didn’t even have a Latin American scout for the majority of his tenure as GM. The organization – top to bottom – was a complete wasteland when he got fired.

  14. …Oh yeah, and Clint Hurdle > John Russell (as if you guys didn’t already KNOW that…)

  15. At least Orioles management is willing to spend money, unlike a certain team which is scared to go over 40 million dollar payroll. As long as Pirates are never willing to have anything but the worst payroll in baseball, they’ll be the worst team. simple as that

  16. The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

    The Orioles last made the playoffs in 1997 and the Pirates 1992, so I doubt that very much.

  17. Rabbitov 4 years ago

    Ryan, not worth it dude, don’t kick a man when he’s down.

  18. Todd Smith 4 years ago

    Yes, over paying guys like Vlad Guerrero to block your prospects is a much better business model.

  19. Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

    As far as I know, Matt Wieters has failed to show the power that he was predicted to have when he was int the minors where as Pedro Alvarez could hit 40 homeruns this year.

    Whose drafted better?

  20. Prospects? You mean a 27 year old guy who hit like .200 last year? Well then again, maybe that would be a promising prospect for the Pirates…

  21. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    Well if you finish last for so long and thats the best your team has developed.. thats an issue on to itself.

  22. Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

    No thanks. We have Jose Tabata to put alongside Neil Walker, Tony Sanchez, Andrew Lambo, Pedro Alvarez, and of course Andrew Mcutchen, who reminds of a mix breed of Griffey, Mays and Crawford

  23. The argument I’m making is that we’re not blocking any prospects. Reimold is more like a suspect, and Pie is forever destined to be a 4th outfielder. There is absolutely no reason a team that can support a 100+ million dollar payroll should just pocket the money instead of using it on an 11 time all-star who can help you win some more games. If we actually had someone worth putting out there to develop, I’d agree it might not be a great move. But a 27 year old guy coming off a .200 season is not a prospect anymore

  24. Rabbitov 4 years ago

    Ryan, Lunchbox is a Blue Jays fan, and for some reason he thinks posting unintelligent things about the Os on every board makes him a good poster. Just ignore the dude.

    Also we do not, and have never had a 100 million dollar + payroll, nor indicated we can support one.

  25. We had about 100 million in the mid 90s if you consider the inflation of salaries since then, and a few days ago there was an article here that McPhail said they could go after a big priced free agent if Angelos deems him worth it. You realize Orioles were 3rd last year in profit, right? Mainly from the massive money they make from MASN and not using any of it on payroll

    Hell we’re already at 93 million this year, and still somewhat in the mix for Millwood apparently (though a dark horse), and if we signed him, that would bring it up to 98 million.

    Source on the mid 90s payroll: link to

    Only Yankees topped us back then

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