Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington has a good relationship with super agent Scott Boras dating back to Huntington’s days with the Cleveland Indians organization.
With free agency less than 48 hours old, Boras has been one of the prominent agents Huntington has placed calls into thus far.
Huntington has reached out to Boras regarding veteran pitcher Kevin Millwood and right fielder Rick Ankiel who the Pirates heavily pursued last off-season. Ankiel hit .232 with 6 home runs and 24 RBI’s last season. Ankiel who is coming off a poor season, was a top target of the Pirates last off-season but had little interest in joining the Pirates.
Meanwhile, the biggest Boras client to surface linked to the Pirates is Boston Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre who belted 28 home runs – 102 RBI’s, while batting .321 for the Red Sox in 2010.
Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated writes: “The Pirates, by the way, seem active in early free-agent calls. They are believed to be showing interest in some surprising free agent prizes, such as Beltre. Whether this is because they are being encouraged to spend more by MLB isn’t known.”
With Huntington checking in with Boras, it’s possible that Beltre has come up but it would be a shock to those around the league if the Pirates seriously went after Beltre. For now this is seen as nothing more than an inquiry.
Beltre though fits the right handed power bat Huntington has been seeking since last year to surround the left handed power hitting Pedro Alvarez.
With the expected league wide interest in Beltre, for the Pirates to get involved, it’s going to cost them four-to-five years in the range of $40-$50 million, industry sources speculate.
Later this winter, another Boras client not to rule out the Pirates giving a look is former Pirate Xavier Nady whose stock is low but scouts believe will rebound in 2011 after struggling from a second elbow surgery that he is now more than a year removed from.
The Pirates checked in on Nady last off-season and he enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh. It’s a long shot to see a reunion but expect the Pirates to make an inquiry again.
Notes: The Pirates today signed reliever Justin Thomas to a minor league deal with an invitation to free agency.