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Pirates could be in dealing mood at upcoming winter meetings

| Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 5:57 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen reacts after striking out against the Cardinals Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, at PNC Park.
Tony Watson 2016 Pirates head shot
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison doubles during the sixth inning against the Marlins Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 at PNC Park.

As they comb the trade market for a veteran starting pitcher, the Pirates have let teams know they are willing to trade any player entering the final year of his contract, according to industry sources.

That includes star outfielder Andrew McCutchen, left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo and first baseman John Jaso.

With the winter meetings opening next week, general manager Neal Huntington also is open to dealing second baseman Josh Harrison and closer Tony Watson.

The winter meetings are scheduled for Monday through Thursday near Washington, D.C.

Last week, the St. Louis Cardinals signed left-handed reliever Brett Cecil to a four-year, $30.5 million contract. Cecil's free-agent deal could affect Watson, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility.

Before Cecil signed with St. Louis, projected Watson might get $5.9 million in arbitration.

Cecil, 30, was one of the top setup pitchers on the market. Watson, 31, finished with 15 saves last season after becoming the Pirates' closer in August when Mark Melancon was traded to the Washington Nationals.

“I do believe they are going to trade Watson,” one scout said. “I don't know that they're actively shopping (Watson), but they would definitely move him. I think they saw with Cecil's contract what (Watson) might be able to get next year.”

Although Harrison has two years left on his $27.3 million contract, he also could be moved.

On Monday, Ken Rosenthal of reported the Pirates tried to re-sign Sean Rodriguez so they could trade Harrison and free up money for other players.

Rodriguez last week signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Atlanta Braves. If the Pirates still opt to trade Harrison, rookie Alen Hanson (who is out of minor league options) and utilityman Adam Frazier could handle second base next season.

With hard-throwing left-hander Felipe Rivero under team control through 2021, Bastardo would be a pricey luxury next season. One rival executive said the Pirates likely would be willing to absorb some of Bastardo's $6.625 million salary in a trade.

If Watson and Bastardo depart, rookie Steven Brault, who pitched in eight games (seven starts) in the majors last season, could be used as left-handed bullpen depth.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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