Going into this offseason, the Pirates are about $15-25 million below their payroll norm ($40-50 mil) for next year, and likely the next few, as few players are near their big raises. That is a substantial amount of cash, and I am going to guess (with, admittedly, no data to back it up) that few other teams have that kind of spending cash, given the general economic environment. This may provide a competitive advantage in the market, but it might forestall the rebuilding process. Below I've listed what I see as the possible approaches to this offseason; note that none of them in any way supercede the ultimate goal of building from within.
Spend Nothing- In the mold of the 2008 winter, NH steers almost entirely clear of the free agent market beyond some marginal signings of bench players, minor league free agents etc. Sink or swim long term entirely on the development of the prospects in house.
Spend Some- The goal here might be a repeat of Littlefield's lucky 2004 offseason, picking up useful players in the mold of Reggie Sanders, Kenny Lofton and improving the team on the cheap. Could also target quality complementary players for the long term, to be present should Alvarez, etc. indeed become star major leaguers. Could result in pointless signings for more mediocrity.
Make a Splash- Go for broke and spend it all; see if a marquee free agent or two will take the bucks to come here. Hope that the farmhands are ready sooner rather than later, and if not, well at least they made the Pirates interesting, if not good per se. Could pay off big, could be a waste of money and a distraction.
I think they all have advantages and drawbacks; but which one most serves the goal of producing a World Series contender(eventually)? Can the best solution be followed without further pissing off the casual Pirate fans?