Quiet offseason likely looms for Pirates
The Pirates will have plenty of roster holes to fill this offseason, but they're not likely to come up with any high-impact solutions in the free-agent market.
Eligible players who do not have contract options for 2012 became free agents overnight. All club, player and mutual contract options must be decided by 11:59 p.m. Monday. Free agents can begin signing with teams at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington's shopping list will be affected by which contract options, if any, the team picks up. The pricey options of Ryan Doumit ($7.25 million for 2012 and $8.25 million for 2013) and Chris Snyder ($6.75 million) will not be exercised, which would seem to make finding a catcher Huntington's top priority.
The free-agent pool is "very, very thin," Huntington has said. The Pirates might target Ramon Hernandez, Rod Barajas or Jason Varitek as a short-term solution. Each is experienced, but age (Hernandez and Barajas are 36, and Varitek turns 40 in April) and durability (none of them played more than 98 games last season) are problematic. Gerald Laird and Brian Schneider will be available, but they are on the downside of their careers.
Last summer, the Pirates mulled a trade that would have sent pitcher Brad Lincoln to the New York Yankees for catcher Francisco Cervelli. The Yankees still are willing to deal Cervelli, who has a history of concussions. But the Pirates might not have enough pitching to swing a deal -- even if they change their minds and pick up Paul Maholm's $9.75 million option.
If Maholm departs and Charlie Morton is slow to recover from hip surgery, there will be two empty rotation spots. Two free agents the Pirates looked at last winter, Jeff Francis and Chris Young, will be on the market again. Erik Bedard, Edwin Jackson and Jason Marquis also could be possibilities.
First base also is a need. Derrek Lee is a free agent and hasn't shown that he wants to return as much as management would like to have him back. Steve Pearce and Garrett Jones are arbitration-eligible, but their Super Two status -- which gives them an extra year of arbitration -- makes it likely they will be non-tendered.
Prospect Matt Hague will get a chance to win the job in spring training, but the Pirates also will eye a more experienced first baseman in free agency or through a trade. Forget about Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and probably Michael Cuddyer -- too expensive. The Pirates' final payroll in 2011 was $52.3 million and probably won't go up next year.
That means the Pirates will sort through second- and third-tier free agents and might be caught in a scrum after the Pujols and Fielder deals are done.
On the Pirates' shopping list:
Ramon Hernandez, Reds: Hit .282 in 91 games
Rod Barajas, Dodgers: 13-year vet played 98 games
Jason Varitek, Red Sox: Might be lured by playing time
Gerald Laird, Cardinals: Backup turns 32 in two weeks
Casey Kotchman, Rays: Hit .306 with 10 HR
Derrek Lee, Pirates: Team is interested; is he?
Carlos Pena, Cubs: Reliable power source hit 28 homers
Michael Cuddyer, Twins: Would require at least 3 years, $30 million
Josh Willingham, Athletics: Could switch from OF
Brad Hawpe, Padres: Power is down; defense is so-so
Edwin Jackson, Cardinals: Matured in past three seasons
Chris Young, Mets: Major injury risk
Jeff Francis, Royals: 6-16, 4.82 ERA; fared better in NL
Jason Marquis, Diamondbacks: Decent rebound from awful 2010Additional Information:
The Pirates must decide by 11:59 p.m. Monday whether to pick up the contract options of four players:
• SS Ronny Cedeno: $3 million for 2012 or $200,000 buyout
• C Ryan Doumit: $7.25 million for 2012 and $8.25 million for 2013 or $500,000 buyout
• LHP Paul Maholm: $9.75 million for 2012 or $750,000 buyout
• C Chris Snyder: $6.75 million for 2012 or $750,000 buyout
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.
- Pirates notebook: Morton hopes to return this season
- Wednesday’s scouting report: Braves at Pirates
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle weighs trio at 1st base
- Tuesday’s scouting report: Braves at Pirates
- CF McCutchen returns to lineup, but Braves blast fast-fading Pirates
- Pirates notebook: Team claims Indians’ Axford off waivers
- Pirates notebook: Cole on track for return to starting rotation
- Pirates notebook: Morton placed on DL; backup infielder Morel recalled
- Pirates’ Locke cleared of game-fixing allegations
- Rossi: Walker’s back another blow to Bucs
- Pirates minor league notebook: Pitcher Heredia finally hitting form