Huntington On Free Agency, Burnett, First Base

In a Q&A yesterday with several bloggers, including Charlie Wilmoth of Bucs Dugout (and, of course, MLBTR), Pirates GM Neal Huntington tackled a series of transactional issues. You'll want to give a read to Charlie's writeup to get the full picture, but here are some key takeaways:

  • Huntington addressed previous comments in which he reportedly said if A.J. Burnett "or others want a market-value deal, they'll sign elsewhere." He did not deny the quote, but said it did not capture what he meant to convey. "What I certainly intended was that top-tier free agents, if they're looking for top-tier dollars, they're going to play somewhere else," said Huntington. "And that's not just Pittsburgh. That's probably half to maybe two-thirds of the markets in baseball." Huntington pointed to last year's signing of Russell Martin as an instance of the franchise topping the market for a player it valued highly; "so, it's not that we won't pay market value when it's appropriate."
  • Huntington added for the "right player, right contract, we'll absolutely go three years. We can go to four years if we need to. But it's got to be the right player for the right contract. It's just the margin for error is a little easier with some of the bigger-market clubs."
  • Burnett is still an option for the Pirates. "We're working to be as patient as we can with A.J.," Huntington said. "A.J. would be our biggest free-agent acquisition if he chooses to come back, so we've tried to keep that door open as long as we can."
  • Huntington denied the signing of Edinson Volquez will affect the team's pursuit of Burnett. "If A.J. decides to come back and we can make it work, we'll figure something out."
  • Huntington said there is a reason why the Pirates haven't been linked to many free agents. "We don't promote what we're doing. I don't call this reporter and say, 'Can you get our name in this mix?' We don't want some people to know what we're doing. We like to work in the background. I like nothing more than to surprise some people with a move, because we don't need to announce what we're doing."
  • Huntington said the front office hasn't been on the sidelines and is working hard, but admits, as compared to last offseason, he hasn't "felt this huge sense of urgency." Filling the Pirates' need at first base is a prime example. "The first base market is evolving. There's some guys that have gone off the board that we liked, but not for a cost that we felt was appropriate for us."

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


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21 Comments on "Huntington On Free Agency, Burnett, First Base"


Joe Orsatti
1 year 8 months ago

They shouldn’t sign Burnett. They should bring in Fautino De Los Santos or a sub-30 year old free agent on a minor league deal.

bigb69
1 year 8 months ago

I hear Mark Mulder is attempting a comeback, stranger things have happened.

ClownShark
1 year 8 months ago

There’s a lot of potential there, in seriousness. Johan Santana, Dice-K, John Lannan, etc.

1 year 8 months ago

Alas, there’re far too many Pirate fans that mistake the FO’s working quietly for not working.

No need to be antsy.

charles stevens
1 year 8 months ago

Pirates have a great gm. I hope their fans appreciate what he’s doing up there.

Henduck
1 year 8 months ago

They don’t for the most part.

Nathan Boley
1 year 8 months ago

Sadly, most don’t. I see too many people going “Sign Nelson Cruz! Sign Mike Napoli! Trade for David Price! Why did we resign Barmes for?!” They just don’t understand.

I honestly fear that if the Pirates ever take a step back they’ll turn on Huntington very quickly. That would be a major mistake, as I’ve reiterated on many posts on this website.

TL
1 year 8 months ago

I think fans here are more critical of ownership. I believe the fan base is supportive of the growth the organization has had under NH. Most fans here don’t expect the Pirates to sign big name free agents but would like to see the gaps filled wisely (which will occur). Bucs fans are a tortured yet intelligent group. They get what needs to occur for this franchise to be successful long-term.

Kilroy1945
1 year 8 months ago

You’re right TL, Bucs fans are tortured. They had to endure the longest consecutive losing streak (in years) of any major sports team so for those who are critical of such fans, you can piss off. They can feel anyway they want after that.

Also, it was Bob Nutting himself who went on record as saying that the wallet will open up once the Pirates look ready to win. Well Bob, your Buccos just made the playoffs and nearly beat the NL champion Cardinals. Time to let those moths in your wallet fly.

TL
1 year 8 months ago

Yes. We are only a few years removed from sending Evan Meek as our lone all star representative on a team that lost 105 games. I think NH is a smart GM and will do the best with the resources he is given. The real fear, and a reasonable one at that, is that Nutting will stand pat and not improve the team.

GoForThree
1 year 8 months ago

Huntington has a good plan, but making the money remarks he did about top players was a bit reckless.

bucsws2014
1 year 8 months ago

I really want to trust Neal. But when your biggest moves this winter are to sign Volquez (and who were the Bucs bidding against that it cost $5 mill?) and Chris Stewart while the Cards and Nats are loading up for bear… well, it’s challenging. We’ll see.

charles stevens
1 year 8 months ago

I wouldn’t say adding Peralta is loading up. The Cards win because of player development. The Pirates are a good team and they’re doing it the right way. They’ll be good for years to come if they stay on this path.

GoForThree
1 year 8 months ago

I agree that it wasn’t loading up by signing Peralta, but the overall moves, including today’s apparent signing of Ellis, are making the team better. I’d think that’s what bucsws2014 was meaning.

Todd Smith
1 year 8 months ago

There just weren’t a lot of needs for the Pirates this offseason. LF, CF, 3B, SS, 2B, C, and the bullpen is set. You have Polanco ready to step in to fill the spot in RF – so it wouldn’t make much sense to spend a lot of money there. You have Cole, Liriano, Morton and Wandy in the rotation. Volquez keeps the #5 spot warm long enough to push Taillon’s free agency clock back with a mid-season call up. You still have Locke, Cumpton and Irwin as depth at AAA.

The only real need is at 1st base. There are still options available there, and honestly a platoon of Lambo/Gaby isn’t exactly a huge problem.

Steven Bayko
1 year 8 months ago

Great point.. No need to give a big contract to a right fielder when polanco will be ready come June/July…

Not a huge fan of Volquez deal but not against it at the same time. Has potential to be a solid 5th starter until Taillon gets up.. $5 mill?? A little much, but who knows?? Liriano and Burnett were considered bad moves, as well..

I believe Lambo could be an option and potential to be an everyday player, but I think we land Moreland to be honest..

Whatever happens, Neal has done a tremendous job!!!! Go Bucs!!!

kcstengelSr
1 year 8 months ago

still think that the pirates will end up with davis or duda to platoon at first facing righties. both are cheaper than some other rumors floated around.

Joe Orsatti
1 year 8 months ago

Duda would actually be an OK pick-up. He wouldn’t need much of a return either. Just go with Duda to induce a bit more power protection behind Alvarez. 15 Home Runs is nothing to sneeze over, especially when he doesn’t have all that much of a place in the Mets line-up

LetsGoBucs92122
1 year 8 months ago

There has not been a lot to do for NH this offseason. There are not too many needs on the team. Pirates are not going to be players for the big time names so you aren’t going to hear the Pirates in every ESPN article like you do with some other teams. Also, NH said they aren’t the type of team that want their name out there when it comes to making moves. They’d rather be behind the scenes; to be honest, I think it is a smart move seeing that many clubs will be able to outbid them for players.

LetsGoBucs92122
1 year 8 months ago

The Pirates are not going to go out and spend big money/years on a RF because they are expecting Polanco to be up as early as June of 2014. They took a flier on Volquez, which could prove to be a great sign if Searage and company can work their magic. There is some depth in the starting rotation although bringing Burnett back for one more year could really bolster it. Their bullpen is overstocked. Most of the positions are filled. They signed Barmes for cheap, which I liked. $2 mil for a very good defensive shortstop as a backup is a win in my book, especially when you have some high ground ball rate starting pitchers. The extension of Morton is a solid move and could be saving the Pirates money if he continues to pitch the way he has been. The only move they still need to make is to find someone to at least platoon with Gaby Sanchez at first base. If Andrew Lambo continues to develop, you don’t fully need to even make that move. Although, I’d feel more comfortable if they did sign someone.

LetsGoBucs92122
1 year 8 months ago

Personally, I have been a fan of their offseason. I haven’t seen too many possible moves for the Pirates to logistically make. I believe Neal and company have done a quality job with this organization.