By John Perrotto
The Pirates are just one-third of the way through filling the holes in their lineup.
They still need a first baseman and a shortstop after signing catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year, $4-million contract as a free agent last week. With Barajas in tow, Neal Huntington will try to lay some groundwork on potential trades during the general managers’ meetings that begin Tuesday in Milwaukee.
“Our needs are fairly well-defined,” Huntington said. “It’s a matter of seeing if there any matches with other clubs. We’re certainly looking to get better, whether it is by trade or free agency.”
One player the Pirates have at least some interest in is Baltimore corner infielder,
Mark Reynolds, who would play first base if he wound up in Pittsburgh. Reynolds is signed for $7.5 million for next season with a club option for $11 million in 2013 that could be bought out for $500,000.
Reynolds, 28 hit .221 with 37 home runs, 86 RBIs, 75 walks, an American League-leading 196 strikeouts, a .323 on-base percentage and a .483 slugging percentage in 155 games last season. While Reynolds has averaged 38 homers over the last three seasons, he has also batted a combined .210 in the last two seasons and averaged 209 strikeouts over the last four years.
The Pirates have also expressed interest in re-singing first baseman Derrek Lee, who hit .337 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 28 games last season after being acquired from Baltimore in a trade July 30. A source close to the situation, though, says the 36-year-old Lee hasn’t reciprocated the same interest and prefers to sign with a team he feels would be closer to contending in 2012.
Meanwhile, the Pirates have turned their attention toward free agent infielder Ramon Santiago in their attempt to find a replacement at shortstop for Ronny Cedeno.
Santiago, 32, has never had more than 444 at-bats in a season and that came back in 2003. He hit .260 with five homers and 30s in 101 games as primarily a utility player for Detroit last season, though he started the bulk of the Tigers’ postseason games at second base.
The Pirates’ top free agent shortstop target is Clint Barmes but the hangup is that he wants a multi-year contract while Pittsburgh is offering only one guaranteed year because it wants to transition to Chase d’Arnaud at the position by no later than the start of the 2013 season. Barmes, 32, played under Pirates manager Clint Hurdle in Colorado and spent last season with Houston, hitting .244 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 123 games.
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