“The Pirates are facing perhaps their most challenging offseason of the Neal Huntington Era — rivaled only by the 2012-13 offseason when jobs might have been at stake,” Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Sawchik gives his take on the many big decisions faced by the Bucs this winter, and he proposes signing utilityman Steve Pearce and “a second-tier starting pitcher” such as Scott Kazmir or Ian Kennedy in free agency, dealing or non-tendering Pedro Alvarez, and trading Mark Melancon and rebuilding the bullpen with less-costly arms. It’s possible the Pirates have already undertaken one of Sawchik’s suggestions (“bid aggressively” on Byung-Ho Park) since the Bucs haven’t been eliminated as the mystery winner of the highest posting big on the Korean first baseman.
- One scout is excited about Pirates prospect Austin Meadows, telling Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter) that he feels the Bucs could “not miss a beat” in the outfield if Andrew McCutchen left in free agency. The scout believes Meadows could take over in left field with Starling Marte moved to fill McCutchen’s spot in center.
- Meadows is one of several Pirates prospects cited by Bill West of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review as important to the club’s future if current start depart as free agents. West thinks 2012 supplemental first-rounder Barrett Barnes, however, could be called up ahead of Meadows to fill any possible vacancies in the outfield; Barnes is almost four years older than Meadows, though his progress was slowed by injuries. While West doesn’t address this topic in his piece, I’d think it’s also possible one of two of these minor leaguers could be trade chips as the Bucs look to bolster their Major League roster for a World Series run. (Though probably no more than one or two, as mid-market teams like the Pirates are particularly reliant on their farm system.)
- Ten Pirates prospects underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015, Biertempfel reports in a separate piece. This has required in some shuffling in the club’s minor league pitching staffs, and Biertempfel figures Pittsburgh will sign one or two veteran arms to minor league deals over the winter.
MLBTR’s Zach Links also contributed to this post