The Rockies have expressed "mild interest" in Jeff Karstens, reports Troy Renck of The Denver Post. Renck reiterates that the team also has some interest in Brandon Webb, plus they remain open to trades for pitching. They have not had conversations about free agents Derek Lowe or Aaron Cook, however.
The Pirates non-tendered Karstens in November rather than pay the 30-year-old right-hander a projected $3.8MM salary in 2013. He pitched to a 3.97 ERA with a 36.8% ground ball rate in 90 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh last season while missing time with shoulder and hip problems. Karstens posted a 3.38 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and a 46.2% ground ball rate in 162 2/3 innings in 2011.
The Rockies have been on the hunt for pitching this offseason after their staff produced an MLB-worst 5.22 ERA in 2012. So far this offseason they've re-signed Jeff Francis while trading for Wilton Lopez, though they've been connected to a number of free agents as well. Francis, Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood, and Juan Nicasio represent Colorado's returning starters.