By John Perrotto
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla._ The Pirates left baseball’s Winter Meetings on Thursday having failed in their attempt to find someone who could replace shortstop Ronny Cedeno. However, they found someone to at least give him competition in spring training for the starting job.
The Pirates selected Josh Rodriguez from the Cleveland Indians with the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft. The 25-year-old hit a combined .297 with 13 home runs and 57 RBIs in107 games with Class AA Akron and Class AAA Columbus last season.
The Pirates failed in their attempts for trade for both J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett in the last two weeks. Minnesota dealt Hardy to Baltimore and Tampa Bay shipped Bartlett to San Diego.
It was a productive week for general manager Neal Huntington as he agreed to contract terms with left-hander Scott Olsen, right-hander Kevin Correia and outfielder Matt Diaz on deals totaling just $14 million. Huntington said he still has money left in his budget and will pursue other moves.
“A guy like Olsen has a great arm and the questions with him are can he stay healthy and grow up a little bit because he could be very good if it all comes together, so he’s worth a low-risk contract,” said a scout from a National League club. “For me, Correia is a….
No. 3 starter and he’s going to be a nice upgrade in the Pirates’ rotation. And I’ve always been a big Diaz believer. I’ve always felt if he got the chance to play every day that he’d put up some numbers.”
Huntington’s next moves will likely involve trades as the Pirates are willing to deal left-hander Paul Maholm and catcher Ryan Doumit. That duo and first baseman Steve Pearce are the last players remaining on the Pirates’ major-league roster from when Huntington took over as GM late in the 2007 season.
John Perrotto is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports. He is the editor-in-chief of BaseballProspectus.com