Rob Biertempfel: Pirates could deal more than just Andrew McCutchen at MLB winter meetings
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Good morning from Day 1 of the winter meetings.
I got in last night to the Swan and Dolphin, dumped my gear in my room and headed to the lobby for the time-honored winter meetings tradition of gathering at the bar. There was a heavy Pittsburgh flavor in the room. First, because a good portion of the hundreds of folks there were glued to the Steelers-Ravens game. And second, because everyone is buzzing about what could be a fire sale by the Pirates.
Andrew McCutchen is on the market. Well, duh. According to folks from various areas of the industry, the Pirates also are willing to listen to offers for Josh Harrison, Gerrit Cole and pretty much anyone else on the roster who is nearing free agency.
Hearing Harrison's name tied to the trade market is no surprise. Management let folks know early last winter that he was available, but Jung Ho Kang's situation changed that.
Who could use Harrison? The New York Mets reportedly are interested, but that might be a smokescreen for their pursuit of Starlin Castro. The Los Angeles Angels could be a good fit — they're searching for someone who can bat leadoff and could use a veteran infielder (Kael Cowart, a first-rounder in 2010 who's collected just 233 at-bats in the majors, is currently listed as their starting second baseman). After winning the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, the Angels have signaled they're willing to go all in to improve their roster.
What are the Pirates are seeking? They need a third baseman, as it appears the Kang era is over and David Freese is no longer able to be a full-time starter. They need outfield depth, even if McCutchen isn't traded.
They also need a left-handed reliever — someone like Xavier Cedeno, a ground-ball pitcher who's coming off an injury shortened season (which should lower the asking price).
In early November, the Pirates reached out to Joely Rodriguez, who played in their farm system from 2009 to 2014. He wound up signing a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.