Pirates covering their bases with 3B Alvarez
On Tuesday, manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates must have a "contingency plan," in case third baseman Pedro Alvarez falters again this season. There were indications yesterday at the winter meetings that the role might be filled by either Wilson Betemit or Mark DeRosa.
Team and industry sources said the Pirates have made headway in contract talks with both free agent infielders, though no deal was imminent. Only one infielder will be signed.
"Pedro knows coming in that it's his job, but he's got to keep his job," Hurdle said. "We'll search for somebody who's a contingency plan if things don't work out."
Hurdle said the Pirates wanted only a reserve player and discounted the notion that Alvarez needs to be pushed by competition.
"He's driven," Hurdle said. "He's got enough professional pride that's in the right place that he wants more. He knows the difference he can make on our ballclub if he performs as he thinks he can."
Betemit, 30, a Type B free agent, was non-tendered after hitting .285 with a .795 OPS last season for the Kansas City Royals (57 games) and Detroit Tigers (40 games). DeRosa, 36, appeared in 47 games for the San Francisco Giants and batted .279 with a .653 OPS.
Betemit, a nine-year veteran and a switch-hitter, also has played first and second base, shortstop and outfield. DeRosa, who also can play second base and corner outfield, is a 14-year veteran.
"It would be good to add some veteran presence to our club," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Guys who've seen some winning environments and some losing environments, who can share things with our guys."
The Pirates moved closer to finalizing a deal with outfielder Nate McLouth, but no announcement is expected until Wednesday at the earliest.
McLouth would get a one-year contract that will include plenty of incentives. After struggling for two years with the Atlanta Braves, McLouth, 30, wants to try to resurrect his career with the Pirates, who drafted him in 2000.
The Pirates would like to add a veteran left-handed reliever to complement newbies Tony Watson and Daniel Moskos. But the free-agent market is so thin, a trade might be the better route.
It's also possible that the Pirates keep just one left-hander in the bullpen, as was the case much of last season.
"In a perfect world, we'll try to use two left-handers," Huntington said. "But at the same time, we'll just want seven guys who can get people out."
Management has not yet decided whether left-hander Justin Wilson will go forward as a starter or a reliever. Wilson, one of the team's top pitching prospects, saw his velocity spike last season when working out of the bullpen.
"As we look at our current club and our future clubs, that's a question we'll walk through," Huntington said. "And it may be answered one way one year and another way another year."
The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Wednesday for Derrek Lee to accept the Pirates' offer of salary arbitration. Lee, a Type B free agent, is expected to reject arbitration. If he signs elsewhere, the Pirates will receive a compensation draft pick between the first and second rounds in 2012.
Hurdle said he's been in contact with Lee this offseason: "Just in texts, and they've had nothing to do with baseball."
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: Hart ‘down a few days’ after cutting foot
- Rossi: Fitting in will be Kang’s biggest hurdle
- Pirates starting pitcher Worley is in right place, right time with team
- Pirates notebook: Sadler gets first Grapefruit start
- Sawchik: Should McCutchen really get a huge salary bump?
- Burnett’s farewell tour wishlist has just 1 item: Pirates World Series
- Pirates willing to consider high salary to keep star McCutchen
- Pirates notebook: Infield prospect Hanson used to playing elders
- Ex-Brewers star Hart hopes to prove to Pirates he still can play
- Rossi: Pirates better with Maz on scene
- Pirates notebook: Team has big plans for newcomer Kang