Pirates aggressive to land a starting pitcher
The Pirates have not been wasting time this off season and have been attacking the free agency market early and aggressively. General Manager Neal Huntington said he wanted to sign at least one starting pitcher for the 2011 season.
“The market early is always aggressive in terms of asks and in terms of what players are looking for,” Huntington said. “Clubs are trying to go as low as we can possibly go. It’s the dance that happens every off-season, and I don’t think that this year is any different given the market.”
The Bucs have been linked to pitchers: Jorge De La Rosa, Jon Garland, Brandon Webb, Justin Duchscherer and Jeff Francis so far.
“We would love to add a starting pitcher, but we have to do so with intelligence,” Huntington said. “Throwing an extra year or throwing an extra X-number of millions of dollars at a guy just to get a guy done doesn’t make financial sense for anybody. Some have more flexibility to do it than others. We have to be smart about it. There are going to be times where we have to stretch. But we have to stretch for the right reasons and not just out of desperation to get a pitcher or get a player.”
It is a rather thin free-agent pitching market this winter. There are some other arms that the Pirates could go after: Carl Pavano, Javier Vazquez, and Kevin Millwood.
The Pirates can also get a starting pitcher by trades or from the Rule 5 draft. The Bucs need to be careful though, most times in trades teams want young prospects back in return. The Pirates could use their internal options to get a starter.
“We’ve got to take a look at our internal options and make sure we have full conviction that whoever we sign, if we sign somebody or trade for somebody and get that contract, that it’s going to be an upgrade from what we have,” Huntington said.
“Do we project them to make us better in 2011? That’s ultimately what is driving us. I know the very easy answer is that anyone can be better than who we had in 2010. But the reality is that you look at some of the ERA leaders in baseball this year, whether it’s the National League or American League, and there are a lot of guys in there that people didn’t think were going to be in there this year. Young players get better. They grow. Sometimes it happens quickly. Sometimes it happens after struggles.”