6:58am: Chicago right fielders Nate Schierholtz and Alex Rios top the Pirates' wish list, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago. The Bucs "have been watching Schierholtz for more than a month," notes Levine.
Right field is an obvious need for the 60-39 Pirates, who have been using Travis Snider, Jose Tabata, and Garrett Jones there and have gotten an aggregate .228/.291/.360 line. Schierholtz, 29, signed a one-year, $2.25MM deal with the Cubs in December after being non-tendered by the Phillies. At .277/.334/.521 with a career-high five RBIs last night, he's having an excellent campaign. Arbitration eligibility for 2014 is a big plus, though for some GMs Schierholtz has yet to shake the reputation of a platoon bat given his continued lack of playing time and struggles against left-handed pitching.
Levine quotes Cubs president Theo Epstein saying, "I think it is fair to say we have some players who can help other clubs. That would especially be true for players who are not under contract control next season." As you might expect, that's an indication that the team is more inclined to move its impending free agents, such as closer Kevin Gregg, as opposed to someone like Schierholtz.
The Pirates' interest in Rios has been previously noted. He's on the radar of the Rangers, Royals, and Red Sox as well.