With Russell Martin Signed – Pirates Look to Add More Players – But Who?
Can the Pirates add more free agents this winter
The Pittsburgh Pirates shocked many last week when they signed free agent catcher Russell Martin to a two-year, $17 million deal. It was the richest contract ever given to to a free agent in franchise history. Before Martin set the new standard for Pittsburgh, Clint Barmes was the biggest free agent signing (two-years, $10.5 million).
So even though the Pirates have began to open up their checkbooks over the last two seasons, the organization has still not made a blockbuster, “game changing” free agent signing. And unfortunately for Pirates fans, that time still is not here according to owner Bob Nutting.
“If you think about some of the past ‘make a statement’ moves, some of those have been some of the really bad decisions if you look back far enough,” Nutting said. “I don’t see us becoming reactionary. I believe as long as we’re continuing to make progress, it really is a contrast process of adjustment. I think you’re going to see that through this off-season, building on the progress that we’ve made.”-Pirates Prospects
That quote was before the Pirates acquired Russell Martin, so it would be quite the surprise if the Pirates were to go after any of the remaining high-priced free agents. So, what direction does that leave the Pirates to go as the Winter Meetings are now under way?
The Pirates have a few needs heading into 2013 and none of them seem to be an easy fix at this time. There are currently rumors that the Pirates are shopping slugger Garrett Jones and closer Joel Hanrahan.
At most, the Pirates would get a back of the rotation starter and a mid tier prospect for both of those players.
The Pirates payroll is estimated to be in the $60-65 million range in 2013, but Nutting also says the Pirates are not held to any specific number.
With the Pirates having already spent so much money on Martin, do not look for the Pirates to do anything crazy through free agency.
If the Pirates are to make any splash moves the rest of the offseason, it would most likely come via trade.
So here are some dark-horse free agents the Pirates could potentially go after.
There are plenty of starting pitchers available, but only a select few are being talked about right now in the same sentence as the Pirates.
All of those options are definite back of the rotation help and none will get many fans excited, especially when Jeff Karstens was non-tendered a few days ago. Karstens owned a sub 4.00 ERA each of the past two seasons.
Other Possible Names:
Francisco Liriano- Liriano, 29, is one of the more intriguing options that could potentially be in the Pirates price range this offseason.
Liriano’s talent has never been in question, only his erratic tendencies have held him back. There are a number of other teams more likely to give Liriano a larger contract than deserved, which hurts the Pirates chances, but the longer he is a free agent, there is always a chance.
Jeff Francis- Francis, 32, played five seasons under Clint Hurdle in Colorado and that alone could bring him to Pittsburgh. Francis has never lived up to his 9th overall selection, but could get a call from the Pirates if other options fall flat.
Carl Pavano- Pavano, 37, only started 11 games in 2012 due to injuries, but is looking to prove he can still get it done in the show. If Pavano is healthy, he could be a good innings eater at the back end of a rotation, as he threw 222 innings in 2011.
Joe Saunders- Saunders, 32, is a lefty and can eat innings, two things the Pirates are interested in. Saunders is almost a lock for 170+ innings per season, as he has done that in each of the past five seasons.
If there is one thing this management group has been truly good at, it has been building their bullpen and doing it cheaply.
Since coming to the Pirates in 2007, Neal Huntington has done a nice job with the bullpen, signing low-profile pitchers such as Juan Cruz, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan among many other solid performers through the years.
Who might Huntington bring in this season to come out of the pen?
Manny Parra- Parra, 30, would be more of a fit for the Pirate bullpen than starting rotation. Parra, a left-handed pitcher has a nice strikeout ratio (9.5 k/9), but really struggles with his command (5.4 bb/9).
Kyle Farnsworth-, Farnsworth, 37, had an injury shortened 2012 and only pitched 27 innings for the Rays. Farnsworth is only one year removed from recording 25 saves and a 2.18 ERA.
Jon Rauch- Rauch, 34, is an intriguing option, as the big right hander had good control numbers in 2012 (1.9bb/9) to go along with strikeout capability(6.6 k/9) . Through 73 appearances in 2012, Rauch registered a 3.59 ERA.