By John Perrotto
DALLAS–Add Wilson Betemit to the list of free agents the Pirates are looking at as a contingency plan at third base.
The Pirates have “significant interest” in Betemit, according to one Pirates’ source, as they look to find someone to compete with incumbent Pedro Alvarez for the starting third baseman’s job in
Betemit, 30, is a free agent after hitting a combined .285 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs in 97 games and 323 at-bats with Kansas City and Detroit last season. He hit 13 home runs in just 84 games and 276 at-bats with the Royals in 2010.
Betemit can play all four infield positions and would be utilized as a utility infielder if Alvarez bounces back from a horrid 2011 with a good showing in spring training.
The Pirates also have some interest in Kevin Kouzmanoff to play third base after he was released by Colorado at the end of the season. However, the drawback to Kouzmanoff as far as the Pirates are concerned is his inability to play the middle infield positions, which would not allow him to serve as a utility infielder if Alvarez were to win the starting third baseman’s job.
The Pirates continue to look to add another starting pitcher and have interest in Japanese left- hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who had a phenomenal 2011 season with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks as he was 16-5 with a 1.51 ERA in 26 starts and 184 innings.
The 30-year-old Wada stands only 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds but has a 107-61 in nine seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball.
The Pirates’ limited track record with Japanese players is awful. Masumi Kuwata compiled a 9.43 ERA in19 relief appearances and 21 innings in 2007 and second baseman Aki Iwamura hit .182 in 54 games and 183 at-bats in 2009.
Another veteran lefty the Pirates have at least some interest in bringing to spring training on a non-roster basis is Jamie Moyer, who at 49 is attempting a comeback after undergoing Tommy John surgery midway through the 2009 season while with Philadelphia.
Moyer has a 267-204 lifetime record in 24 seasons, including 103 wins since he turned 40.
John Perrotto has covered the Pirates and Major League Baseball since 1988.