Management began entertaining offers for him in the offseason, and that never stopped. But those offers continue to come in lower than expected, so a Plan B has been formulated: The Pirates might offer salary arbitration to Marte after this season, assuring that, even if someone else signs him out of free agency, they would receive two quality draft picks as compensation.
As Plan B's go, that's a pretty good one. We Pirates fans aren't used to this strategy because Dave Littlefield never used it, but it's a great way to build up the farm system, especially when you're doing it with players like Marte. The rules for determining which compensation picks free agents get require relievers to be compared to other relievers only, so a good one like Marte can potentially bring back a first round pick even though Marte isn't as valuable as an everyday player. The Pirates could potentially get a far better return by holding onto Marte. And if they're bluffing, this is a very good bluff to use and could potentially drive up Marte's price on the trading market.
In other news, the link isn't working as I type this, but the Post-Gazette Pirates front page suggests that reliever T.J. Beam will be called up from Indianapolis. I'm happy to see this--Beam has been very good at Indy, and he has a long history of performing well at Class AAA. He only pitched in one year in the majors, but that was because he was with the Yankees, who weren't exactly known for their patience with minor leaguers. He's supposed to have pretty good stuff, and while he's no guarantee, he's a better bet than guys like Marino Salas and Bryan Bullington to become a useful reliever.