Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

Quick Hits: Magic, Girardi, Pirates, Bailey

Magic Johnson's candor about the Dodgers likely not pursuing Robinson Cano this offseason has led Major League Baseball to look into Johnson's comments, ESPN's Buster Olney reports.  Officials on other teams aren't allowed to publicly discuss players who haven't officially become free agents yet, especially in cases where a player's market value could be affected.  General managers around the league told Olney that "their comments were watched more closely over the last year than in any time in recent memory," so Johnson could face some type of penalty for his remarks.

Here are some news items as we end another exciting day of four playoff games...

  • Joe Girardi "apparently remains torn" if he's going to accept the Yankees' extension offer or explore other manager jobs, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.  The Yankees "have made it clear" that they could pull back their offer if Girardi talks to other clubs, something he's not allowed to do until the end of the month since the Yankees aren't granting other teams permission to negotiate with their manager.  One such team, the Cubs, expect to learn by tomorrow if Girardi is staying in New York, a source tells Wittenmyer.
  • The Pirates want to keep Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez over the long term, team president Frank Coonelly tells MLB.com's Tom Singer.  Coonelly also discusses the Francisco Liriano signing, the farm system and other topics during the interview.
  • "It wouldn't be shocking" if the Reds traded Homer Bailey to create some payroll space, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon opines.  Bailey earned $5.3MM last season and MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects that he could earn $9.3MM in arbitration.  Though Bailey has been one of the Reds' best pitchers over the last two years, he "has shown little interest in signing" a multiyear deal with the team, Sheldon writes, so the Reds could move him now before possibly losing him in free agency after next season.
  • Major League Baseball has filed a motion requesting that Alex Rodriguez's lawsuit against the league be moved to a federal court, and if the move is granted, MLB will likely file a motion to dismiss the suit, Newsday's Steven Marcus reports.
  • The Indians have a number of things to do before Opening Day 2014, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Hoynes' list includes adding an impact bat, adding at least one quality starter, bolstering the relief corps and locking up Justin Masterson to a long-term deal.
  • It once seemed unusual, but now its the norm for playoff teams to turn to inexperienced pre-arbitration eligible players, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes.  Among the 24 pre-arb hurlers in this year's postseason are Michael Wacha, Jarrod Parker and Alex Cobb, all of whom started today for their respective teams.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post

NL Central Notes: Reds, Cubs, Beltran, Pirates

Reds assistant director of media relations Jamie Ramsey provided fans with a feel-good story today, as longtime Reds staffer Chris Herrell returned to work after undergoing a bone marrow transplant 10 months ago to treat a rare form of blood cancer. The Reds' front office welcomed Herrell back with a surprise celebration this morning, writes Ramsey. Best wishes to Chris, his family and friends as he continues his recovery! Here's more out of the NL Central...

  • Sources confirmed to David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com that former Indians and Nationals manager Manny Acta is in Chicago today to meet with Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer. “The Cubs have a fairly long list of potential candidates and they have to handle it that way if the Girardi thing doesn’t happen,” said one scout. Other candidates include A.J. Hinch and Rick Renteria.
  • Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran will be in high demand this winter, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). Olney feels that the Mets, Rangers, Yankees, Orioles, Phillies, and Reds could all be players for Beltran. At 36, Beltran may prefer to go to an American League club and DH.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington deserves praise for his aggressive approach on the trade market, writes Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Miklasz notes that, in comparison, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak chose to stand pat, and it could be a difference-maker now that the two are squaring off in the NLDS. He adds that there's no way, however, that Mozeliak could have foreseen Allen Craig's injury, which forced Matt Adams into a starting role and depleted the team's bench depth.
Zach Links contributed to this post.

Cafardo On Arroyo, Kendrick, Braun, Cano

Timing is everything in baseball and Joe Girardi is hitting the open market at the perfect time, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  The Cubs always saw landing Girardi as a longshot, but they'll give it another go this winter.  From the Yankees perspective, they'd be foolish not to lock Girardi up with a lucrative new deal, in Cafardo's opinion.  Few managers, he argues, could have survived the injuries that the Yankees were dealing with and kept them in the playoff chase in September.  If Girardi bails for Chicago or elsewhere, Cafardo suggests Don Mattingly as a candidate.  Of course, the Dodgers would have to fire him or work out a trade for that to happen.  Here's more from today's column..

  • Bronson Arroyo says he wants a three-year deal and he feels his time in Cincinnati is likely over. “I have no preference on where I want to pitch but I’ll certainly consider the team, their chances of winning, and all of that,” he said. “I feel I can pitch effectively at 37, 38, and 39 years old. I’ve never missed a start. Never been injured. I’m not a max-effort guy out there, so there’s no big-time wear and tear on me. I loved Cincinnati but I don’t think they’re in position to give me what I want.” Cafardo suggests the Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers, Cubs, Giants, Pirates, Cardinals, and Dodgers as possibilities.
  • It's looking increasingly likely that Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick will be traded for pitching or prospects. The Royals need second base help and would have interest.  The Orioles may also be interested if they cut ties with Brian Roberts this winter.  The O's haven't decided what to do with Roberts just yet but they wouldn't go beyond a one-year deal to keep him. 
  • It has been suggested that the Brewers could trade Ryan Braun, but finding someone willing to take on his baggage and lucrative deal could be tricky.  “I don’t think he’s going anywhere. Someone would have to take a big chance and nobody’s doing that on PED guys, especially for that length of contract,” said one exec.
  • Bench coach Tony Pena is not likely to replace Girardi as manager if he goes elsewhere. “I don’t think anyone in our front office is even thinking about that,” said one Yankees official.
  • Many believe that the Dodgers won't be serious players for Robinson Cano, but things can change with an early exit from the playoffs.

Twins Acquire Duke Welker

The Twins have acquired right-hander Duke Welker from the Pirates as the player to be named later in the Justin Morneau deal, the teams announced.  Morneau was traded to Pittsburgh on August 31st for outfielder Alex Presley and a PTBNL or cash.

Welker, 27, made two major league appearances in 2013 but spent the bulk of the year at Triple-A Indianapolis, posting a 3.57 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9.  The 27-year-old was rated as the No. 26 prospect in the PIrates' system by Baseball America at the start of the year after a five-year absence from the list.  The 6'7" hurler had a lot of hype after being taken in the second round of the 2007 draft but injuries held him back in subsequent years. 

Quick Hits: Wainwright, D'Backs, Hultzen, Royals

The Cardinals rolled to a 9-1 win over the Pirates in Game One of their NLDS series today, as A.J. Burnett allowed seven runs in just two innings while Adam Wainwright allowed a run on three hits over seven innings.  Pittsburgh has had to deal with Wainwright as a division rival for years yet MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter) points out that Wainwright could've been a Pirate 13 years ago.  The Bucs were preparing to take Wainwright as an outfielder in the second round (with the 59th overall pick) of the 2000 draft, but the Braves took Wainwright 29th overall and the rest is history.

Here are some more news items as we look ahead to Friday's ALDS series openers...

  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said his team will look for a left-handed bat this offseason, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports, and that next hitter will likely come in a trade.  "We're going to look at free agents, but I think this is one of the weaker free-agent markets I've seen in some time, so that might lead us toward looking at trade partners more," Towers said.
  • Mariners southpaw Danny Hultzen underwent left shoulder labrum and rotator-cuff surgery on Tuesday and could miss the entire 2014 season while recovering, Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reports.  MLB.com ranked Hultzen as the 18th-best prospect in the sport in the site's preseason rankings, while Baseball America (#29) and ESPN's Keith Law (#66) also thought highly of the 23-year-old lefty.  Hultzen was the second overall pick of the 2011 draft and was quickly moving up the Seattle farm system, posting a 2.05 ERA, 4.86 K/BB and 10.0 K/9 in six Triple-A starts last season.
  • Some of the flaws of the new collective bargaining agreement can be seen in the case of the Royals, ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required) argues, as small-market teams who finish just shy of the postseason are somewhat "punished" by the system.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News looks at which players in the postseason could be targets for the Yankees or Mets in free agency or the trade market this winter.  Some players could fit on either club, such as Ricky Nolasco.  Martino says the Mets "tossed around" Nolasco's name when discussing a Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Marlins last spring.

Quick Hits: Byrd, Angels, Mariners, Ripken, Weiss

The Reds could have claimed outfielder Marlon Byrd, who the Pirates acquired in August, but they passed on the chance, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes (on Twitter). Byrd was owed near the league-minimum salary and was in the midst of a solid year, and it was well-known that the Reds' division rivals in Pittsburgh needed an outfielder. The Reds had waiver priority, and thus could have blocked the Mets from trading Byrd to Pittsburgh. But they didn't, and he homered against them in their 6-2, season-ending loss to the Bucs Tuesday night. The primary purpose of claiming Byrd would have been to block the Pirates from getting him, but it's worth noting, too, that the righty Byrd could have been quite helpful for the Reds tonight against Bucs lefty starter Francisco Liriano, who baffled the Reds' lefty-heavy lineup with sliders. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Angels still haven't dismissed GM Jerry Dipoto or manager Mike Scioscia, and that might be an indication that both will still be with the team in 2014, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. The Angels' massively disappointing season and reports of conflict between Dipoto and Scioscia have led to reports that one of them might depart at the end of the season, but so far that hasn't happened. Scioscia is owed around $27MM over the next five years, and Dipoto is under contract through next year.
  • Mariners Chairman/CEO Howard Lincoln is expressing confidence in GM Jack Zduriencik, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. After a recent series of poor seasons and the abrupt departure of manager Eric Wedge, the Mariners appear to be in disarray. But Lincoln says that firing Zduriencik would lead the organization in the wrong direction. "I know how frustrated the fans are. No one is more frustrated than I am," he says. "But we have to be patient and stick with the program we have invested so much in. We can't switch horses, change gears, whatever you want to call it now. That's not a good idea." Lincoln also says the Mariners have received inquiries from plenty of potential managerial applicants, even though Zduriencik's questionable status might appear to make the Mariners' managerial job an undesirable one.
  • Former Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr. isn't tipping his hand about whether he might be interested in managing the Nationals, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. He does, however, seem interested in managing a big-league team someday. "At some point I might like to do that," Ripken says. The Nationals will be looking for a manager to replace the retiring Davey Johnson. In August, in response to a question about managing, Ripken said, "I think I would be more curious at this stage in my life than I have been."
  • Rockies manager Walt Weiss isn't under contract for 2014, but the team wants him to return, writes Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. The Rockies hired Weiss after the 2012 season, signing him to a one-year deal. His next contract might be a two-year deal, or perhaps a one-year deal with an option.
  • Renck also notes that, while the Rockies' main front-office personnel will likely remain the same, roles could change, perhaps with Bill Geivett moving into "more of a traditional GM role." Geivett currently reports to GM Dan O'Dowd, but Geivett currently runs Major League operations while O'Dowd works on the minor leagues.

NL Central Notes: Pirates, Reds, Hinch, Brewers

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.

Quick Hits: Pence, Westbrook, Abreu, Astros

While it's not a mistake on the level of the Barry Zito contract, the Giants could come to regret the Hunter Pence deal, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. The $90MM contract won't stop them from winning if they can surround him with quality players on undervalue contracts, but that's obviously easier said than done. Here's more from around baseball..

  • Jake Westbrook can read the writing on the wall and knows that his time with the Cardinals is likely over, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Between his struggles and the Cards' wealth of young pitching, Westbrook isn't expected to be placed on the postseason roster. Westbrook isn't certain if he will pitch in 2014 and plans to discuss with his family in the offseason.
  • Ben Badler of Baseball America spoke with international sources to identify five teams that could sign Jose Dariel Abreu.  The White Sox, Nationals, Pirates, Red Sox, and Rangers look like the frontrunners for the Cuban standout with Texas possibly having the inside track on everyone.
  • Prior to a charity event earlier today, Astros owner Jim Crane said that he plans to spend money in 2014 to help turn the club around, writes Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. “Now we have a nucleus to draw from. And so we got that established. I think in the off-season you’ll see Jeff [Luhnow], and he’s already said it, we’re going to fill some of those holes. As the kids come up through the system we can get competitive very quick. We lost a lot of one-run games. It’s pretty obvious where our needs are, and we’ll work on those in the offseason and start loosening the purse book,” Crane said.
  • Cubs president Theo Epstein says he will look first and foremost at candidates with managerial experience, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) notes that the Dodgers hold an option on manager Don Mattingly for 2014.  The option is worth $1.4MM, sources tell Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi.

NL Notes: Dodgers, Oswalt, Coonelly

The Dodgers will not be bidders for Robinson Cano, Mark Feinsand of New York Daily News reports. The Dodgers could soon sign Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero, which would mean they won't need a second baseman, but Feinsand writes that even if Guerrero and the Dodgers don't come to terms, the Dodgers aren't planning on signing Cano. Here are more notes from around the National League.

  • Roy Oswalt would like to return to the Rockies, writes Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). The veteran pitcher says he would be interested in starting or relieving. Oswalt posted an 8.63 ERA in 32 1/3 innings for Colorado this year, although with 9.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 -- a .442 BABIP seems to be the primary factor in Oswalt's poor results.
  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly will not head back to MLB's front office after Bud Selig's retirement, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Coonelly served as Major League Baseball's senior vice president and general counsel of labor before the Pirates hired him in 2007. "I really enjoy it in Pittsburgh," says Coonelly. "We're just starting to have fun here, and I want to be around for the fun."

AL West Notes: Donaldson, Trumbo, Wedge, Astros

Hunter Pence's new five-year deal with the Giants isn't the only extension talk in the Bay Area. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that Josh Donaldson is very open to the idea of signing a long-term deal with the Athletics. Donaldson tells Slusser that he and his agent, Hunter Bledsoe, have discussed the possibility, and he would "absolutely love" to sign an extension, provided it's a fair deal.

Said Donaldson: "I'm a guy who's been downplayed my entire career. Even when I was a first-round draft pick (in 2007), I took 10 percent less than the guy before me. I just want something fair, something that's justified." Donaldson's .302/.383/.502 batting line, 24 homers and elite third base defense should earn him some AL MVP votes. Here's more from the AL West...

  • Mark Trumbo might be the Angels' best trade chip in their quest for controllable young pitching this offseason, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. The Mariners, Pirates and Royals all had interest in Trumbo this past July, according to Gonzalez, and more teams figure to be interested over the winter. Trumbo told Gonzalez that he doesn't fear the change that would come with a trade like he would have earlier in his career.
  • Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who has told the team he won't be back in 2014, told reporters (including Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times) that he wouldn't even accept a five-year extension from the team. Wedge cited a difference between his vision for the team and the vision of GM Jack Zduriencik, president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln. Wedge felt the team needed to supplement young talent with proven talent and told Baker that he didn't have as much say in personnel decisions as he'd have liked.
  • A statement released by the Astros explained the team's position in the wake of a report that Comcast filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition on behalf of the Comcast SportsNet Houston network that the Astros co-own with the Houston Rockets and NBC Universal. Brian McTaggart has the gist of the statement in an article for MLB.com. The statement alleges that Comcast improperly filed the petition to try to block the Astros from terminating the club's media rights agreement with Houston Regional Sports Network. "We will continue to work toward obtaining full carriage so that all of our fans are able to watch the Astros games while making sure that the Astros are able to compete for championships," the statement read.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.

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