By John Perrotto
General manager Neal Huntington has a lot of restocking to do in the Pirates’ bullpen.
Closer Matt Capps was jettisoned in December when the Pirates decided to release him rather than go to a potential salary arbitration hearing. Right-hander Jesse Chavez was traded to Tampa Bay for second baseman Akinori Iwamura in November. Last July, primary left-handed set-up man John Grabow was traded to the Chicago Cubs.
The Pirates began the process of rebuilding their bullpen this week with a quiet move as they signed right-hander Brian Bass to a minor-league contract as a free agent. They are also pursuing a number of other free agent right-handers, including Octavio Dotel, D.J. Carrasco, Santiago Casilla, Julian Tavarez, Jose Veras and Tyler Walker.
Dotel, 36, would become the closer if he signs. The 36-year-old was 3-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 62 relief appearances with the Chicago White Sox last season. He has 83 saves in his 11-year career.
Carrasco, 32, also pitched for the White Sox last season and was 5-1 with a 3.76 ERA in 49 games, one start. He spent three seasons in the Pirates’ farm system but was lost to Kansas City in the Rule 5 Draft following the 2002 season. Carrasco has since pitched in 181 major-league games, including 23 starts.
Castilla, 29, was 1-2 with a 5.96 ERA in 46 games with Oakland last season but had a 3.93 ERA in 51 games for the Athletics in 2008.
Tavarez, 36, spent 2003 with the Pirates and finished that season as their closer, accumulating 11 of his 23 saves. He was 3-7 with one save and a 3.89 ERA in 42 games with Washington last season.
Veras, 29, was a combined 4-3 with a 5.19 ERA in 47 games with the New York Yankees and Cleveland last year. He had a 3.89 ERA in 60 games for the Yankees in 2008.
Walker, 33, was quietly a key contributor last season for Philadelphia as he went 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 32 games.
***Major-league sources indicated that the Pirates are actively shopping reserve outfielder Delwyn Young, who became expendable Wednesday when Pittsburgh officially signed outfielder Ryan Church as a free agent. Young was the Pirates’ starting second baseman for the final two months of last season but lost that job following the Iwamura trade.***