The Pirates, who tonight will host their first playoff game since 1992, were built not only through the draft, as small-payroll teams often are, but also through trades and free agency, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Tony Watson were drafted by Neal Huntington's predecessor Dave Littlefield, and Huntington drafted Pedro Alvarez, Jordy Mercer, Justin Wilson and Gerrit Cole. But the 2013 Pirates were shaped, in large part, by two 2012 acquisitions of former Yankees -- the Bucs traded for top-of-the-rotation starter A.J. Burnett before the 2012 campaign, and signed catcher and defensive wizard Russell Martin to a two-year deal after the season was over. Here are more notes from around the NL Central.
- A loss for the Reds tonight could raise questions about the team's future, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is set to become a free agent. And if pitching coach Bryan Price becomes a top managerial candidate with the Mariners, there might be questions about Dusty Baker's future with the Reds as well, since the Reds would likely want to keep Price. Such questions probably wouldn't be resolved right away, however -- Baker is due around $4MM next year, and the Reds had 90 wins this year, so there would be no rush to replace him.
- After dismissing Dale Sveum, the Cubs are looking for a manager, and Rosenthal (via Twitter) thinks former Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch might be one possibility. Hinch is currently an assistant GM for the Padres. Rosenthal tweets that, among Padres personnel, Hinch appears more likely for the Cubs job than special assistant Brad Ausmus.
- First base tops the Brewers' list of priorities this offseason, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes. Brewers first basemen hit just .206/.259/.370 in 2013, and their primary first baseman was Yuniesky Betancourt, who hit .212/.240/.355. GM Doug Melvin suggests the Brewers could bring back Corey Hart after Hart missed the entire 2013 season, but the Brewers want to learn more about the condition of his knees.