Pirates notebook: Trade winds swirl as Winter Meetings begin
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Pirates signed catcher Russell Martin to the richest free-agent deal in franchise history three days before the winter meetings began. So maybe it's no surprise the team didn't make much noise on the first day of baseball's annual confab.
“In our minds, we've already made our big move with Russ,” general manager Neal Huntington said Monday. “That doesn't mean there's not other big moves coming. (Martin's deal) is going to allow us to be patient and see how things play out. Do we have areas to upgrade? Absolutely. But we've already handled our biggest need coming into the winter meetings.”
Martin agreed to a two-year, $17 million contract, filling the biggest hole on the roster. But the Pirates still need a starting pitcher — preferably a left-hander — and bullpen help.
Huntington also is willing to explore improvements at shortstop and first base. Shortstop Clint Barmes was an offensive disappointment and will be a free agent after 2013. On Monday, Huntington said Garrett Jones — who has drawn trade interest from a handful of teams — and Gaby Sanchez will platoon at first base.
The Dodgers are listening to offers for shortstop Dee Gordon, a speedy, defensively adept 24-year-old. But Gordon will command a significant return, and the Pirates seem to have prospects Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia, Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson on an ironclad no-trade list.
With his top prospects cemented in the system, Huntington will scour a thin free-agent market and mull trades involving some of his major leaguers.
The non-tender deadline was Friday, which put 40 more free agents on the market. Of those, the Pirates have shown interest in five pitchers: lefties Manny Parra, John Lannan and Tom Gorzelanny, and righties Jair Jurrjens and Mike Pelfrey.
“If our five best starters are all right-handed, we're OK with that,” Huntington said. “In a perfect world, you'd love some balance. But it's all about getting the five guys you feel best about, and then six, seven and eight.”
Jones has sparked interest from the Mariners, Orioles (who have since cooled on the idea) and Astros. But the Pirate most often mentioned in trade rumors is closer Joel Hanrahan; the Pirates started offering him to other teams weeks ago.
“Probably last summer was when Joel's value was the highest that it was going to be,” Huntington said. “It's awfully tough to trade your closer then. It's awfully tough to trade your closer now. We're in a situation where, if we entertain trading any of our players, it's got to make sense for us short-term and long-term. If it makes sense, we'll do something. If it doesn't, we're good.”
If they deal Hanrahan, the Pirates would move quickly to try to re-sign free agent Jason Grilli as their new closer. Huntington said the Pirates have “remained engaged” in talks with Grilli's agent.
No rush to call up Cole
When asked if Cole, the top draft pick in 2011, has a chance to begin the season in the Pirates' rotation, Huntington paused.
“That's a tough question,” Huntington said. “Gerrit just finished his first full professional season, and we couldn't be more pleased with his growth and his development. We're going to do everything in our power to put him in a position to be successful.
“There are some guys who are flying through systems and being successful. There's a lot of guys who have flown through systems and you wonder whatever happened to them. Gerrit's an important piece of our future, so we've got to make sure we coordinate his development.”
Stand Up To Cancer auction
Three Pirates-themed items, including an autographed Bill Mazeroski replica statue, are part of the MLB's Stand Up To Cancer auction, organized by the league's public relations directors. Bids can be placed via mlb.com through 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7811.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.