Pirates stand pat on trade deadline day

Rob Biertempfel
| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 4:21 p.m.

The Pirates wanted to be buyers at the trade deadline, but they wound up being bystanders.

On a day that saw very little movement across baseball, the Pirates stood pat as the non-waiver trade deadline passed at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

General manager Neal Huntington focused most of his efforts on trying to find a slugger but also considered deals for pitchers. For the first time in two decades, the Pirates made a strong push to acquire marquee talent — even at the expense of giving up top prospects.

“There's no question that we forced the issue,” Huntington said. “I made offers that made me incredibly uncomfortable. I did so with the idea that we wanted to help this club. We went in knowing it was a seller's market.”

Huntington declined to identify which of the Pirates' minor leaguers he offered in deals. But pitchers Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow, outfielder Gregory Polanco and infielder Alen Hanson likely were on many clubs' wish lists.

“I talk a lot about not wanting to do something stupid,” Huntington said. “We were willing to do something stupid. We just didn't want to do something insane.”

The pool of available players was shallow. Among the players in the Pirates' sights were outfielders Alex Rios, Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus.

Aiming higher — and trying to spark a deal — Huntington inquired about standouts such as Mark Trumbo, Giancarlo Stanton and Hunter Pence.

There were indications the Pirates were willing to give up a young pitcher for Trumbo. But a source told the Tribune-Review that the Los Angeles Angels had no interest in dealing their power-hitting first baseman.

The Pirates made repeated attempts to work a deal for Stanton and, according to another source, made an offer that caught the attention of Miami's front office. However, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria does not want to shed the team's lone superstar.

Last year, the Pirates balked when the asking price for Pence included outfielder Starling Marte. This year, the cost again would have included more premium talent than Huntington was willing to give.

“The quickest way to move in the wrong direction is to move too much minor league talent for a shot to win one time,” Huntington said. “We believe in this (team), and we believe in the talent in the system behind it.”

Before the deadline, Huntington knew backup catcher Michael McKenry needed season-ending knee surgery. McKenry had the operation Tuesday and hopes to be ready for the start of 2014 spring training.

However, Huntington did not spend much time exploring a deal for another catcher. That need was filled from within.

“We're very comfortable with Tony Sanchez being up here as a major league-caliber catcher,” Huntington said. “We'll continue to look for a small trade ... to see if we can upgrade our emergency depth.”

Stymied in their efforts to land an impact bat, the Pirates might give Triple-A Indianapolis outfielder Andrew Lambo a call-up.

“When you hit (a combined) 28 home runs in the (Double-A) Eastern League and the International League, that's legitimate,” Huntington said. “We acquired Andrew (in 2010) for a reason. It's taken a little bit longer than we'd hoped, but he's a guy who we do feel — with some continued growth and adjustment — can help us at the major league level at some point this summer.”

Lambo is not on the 40-man roster, but the Pirates could clear a spot easily by moving McKenry from the 15- to the 60-day DL.

Major league players still can be traded in August, but they first must clear waivers. That enables a competing team to block a potential swap but only if it is willing to claim the player involved.

The White Sox might be motivated to move Rios, who is due $12.5 million in 2014. They have a ready replacement in Avisail Garcia, whom they acquired Tuesday when they dealt Jake Peavy.

“We'll certainly continue to be active,” Huntington said. “Our challenge is we want to be sitting at the back of the (waiver claim) pack. These days, teams are quite frequently aggressive with claims and blocks.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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