GM Neal Huntington will go after someone to fill either the 3, 4 or 5 spot, preferably a veteran arm who can be counted upon to eat some innings.
RHP Kevin Correia is a free agent, and management has given no indication it will try to bring him back. RHP Charlie Morton is out until at least July as he recovers from elbow surgery, and might be non-tendered. Even if RHP Jeff Karstens, who’s in his last year of arbitration eligibility, is tendered a contract, the Pirates will want to bring in a free agent to provide injury insurance and competition in spring training camp.
Biertempfel goes on to list a variety of pitching options that come in all flavors of "ugh," from Mild to Fire. (Like Taco Bell sauces, most of these guys would probably end up leaving the system earlier than anticipated.) Carlos Villanueva might be the best of them. I'm not sure how to take Biertempfel's piece, which seems to be that weird mix of insider quasi-reporting and outright speculation so characteristic of the Hot Stove season. But again, I'd add that if the Pirates' options are anything like this, then non-tendering Karstens makes no sense at all. Even Francisco Liriano is described as being "probably too costly for the Pirates." If the Bucs would consider bringing in Kevin Millwood in order to save $2 million on Jeff Karstens, I think that's a terrible idea -- it's the sort of safe move that just gives the Pirates a marginally better chance at winning 75 games and a worse chance at winning 82.