By Jason Shetler
While the Pirates haven’t made any real blockbuster moves this offseason that would garner the national attention of the baseball world, they have managed to make a few key moves, most notably the trade of Jon Niese, and the signings of John Jaso, Juan Nicasio and Sean Rodriguez. With almost two months left in the offseason, how many more moves can we expect from the Pirates? – Here are some possibilities.
The bench right now is very right-handed heavy with Chris Stewart, Jason Rogers, Michael Morse and Sean Rodriguez. John Jaso can be a reserve on days when the Pirates are facing a left-handed starter. Alen Hanson could be a internal option since he’s a switch-hitter, but the Pirates will probably wait to call him up midseason due to Super 2. My guess is they’ll likely go outside the organization. Kelly Johnson is someone who’s an above league average hitter, and because he’s a left-handed bat, he could really balance their bench.
The bullpen looks to be pretty complete. The only real need there is a lefty reliever. Antonio Bastardo is a free agent, and is seeking a three-year contract worth $18 million, which is similar to the one that Tony Sipp received. Unless that price comes down, I doubt the Pirates will bring back Bastardo. Cesar Ramos, Franklin Morales and Matt Thornton are free agent options who they can sign for a lesser amount. The Pirates could also consider using Michael Morse as trade bait to obtain a left-handed arm.
The starting rotation is currently Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese, Ryan Vogelsong and Jeff Locke. I find it hard to believe that the Pirates rotation will look like that on Opening Day, which certainly makes me think another starting pitcher will be addressed. Scott Kazmir appears to be out of their price range now. They could look at Yovani Gallardo, but would have to surrender their first round pick to get him. Mat Latos has been linked to the Pirates, and is someone they could sign for cheap as a bounce back candidate. Then there’s the trade route for starting pitching, such as Andrew Cashner of the Padres, Ivan Nova of the Yankees and Jake Odorizzi of the Rays.