The Latest Pirates Buzz
GM Neal Huntington has been given the green light from ownership to add salary via rental players.
The Pirates are pounding the door on everyone with trade inquiries exploring fits via rentals or long-term.
Sources say the Pirates focus in recent days has been on adding bullpen help and some pop to their lineup in the outfield (a player off the bench for short-term help), but the Pirates also have their eye on next season and beyond.
That has the team looking into the starting pitching market for targets they see as possible fits in the starting rotation for 2012.
As good as the Pirates rotation has been this season, there’s a lot of uncertainity surrounding the staff moving forward.
Twins starter Kevin Slowey is a pitcher they have looked into and the team still has interest in Jeff Francis, despite having a 3-11 record with a 4.62 ERA this season with Kansas City.
The Pirates thinking process is believed to be: 1. Willing to take on salary for rental players (most likely option); 2. Willing to move assets in their system but only for players who fit contract wise for 2012 or beyond.
Here are some rumblings on the trade market:
Bullpen Help: The Pirates are not confident in Evan Meek returning this season as the player he was in 2010. It has the team looking for a veteran who could possibly be an anchor in the 8th inning. A lot will depend on the price.
A lefty reliever has also been on the Pirates radar for a few weeks now.
Pirates – A’s Linked: The Oakland A’s are a team that the Pirates have been looking at for outfield options, showing interest in Josh Willingham (.244 – 12 HR – 46 RBI) and David DeJesus (.224 – 5 HR – 26 RBI). Adding either player would center around the Pirates mostly just taking on each players salary. Both are making around $6 million this season.
The team has also looked into A’s infielder Connor Jackson (.249 – 3 HR – 27 RBI), according to Jason Crasnick of ESPN.com
High asking price for Melky Cabrera
The Kansas City Royals like the Pirates, also expect to contend in 2012.
That has the Royals seeking a somewhat high return for 26 year old outfielder Melky Cabrera who is hitting .295 this season with 11 home runs and 52 RBI’s.
Cabrera is hitting extremely well of late, batting .375 in his last 10 games and he has 24 doubles on the season, which would rank 1st on the Pirates. He also has some ability on the base pads, stealing 14 bases this season.
Despite not hitting well last season in the National League, Cabrera could be attractive to the Pirates due to his contract ($1.25 Million in 2011) and being a possible long-term fit.
A more likely trade target for teams is Jeff Francoeur who the Royals have made available in trade talks but are seeking pitching in return. The 27 year old right handed hitter is batting .266 with 13 home runs and 58 RBI’s.
Beltran not a fit
ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney speculated on Sunday that the Pirates could get into the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes now that the Mets’ are willing to eat a bulk of the outfielder’s salary.
However, we’re told the Pirates and Mets are an unlikely match because of the Mets seeking a top tier prospect in return.
If the Pirates were to look into a high priced veteran, the team would have more interest in Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, sources say. Ramirez, though, like Beltron is not an likely option.