Following the magical ride that was the 2013 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, we fans eagerly await what holiday gifts Mr. Huntington will bring us this winter. As the winter meetings rapidly approach, I would like to suggest a few players I would love to see in black and gold at PNC Park on March 31st. By position, I have come up with a proposed deal for each player with some help from ESPN and MLBTR.
James Loney - 2 years, $14 million w/ a $7 million club option
We all know that this is arguably the largest hole in Clint Hurdle's lineup. We also have heard at length about the lack of 1B depth on the market this year. With that being said, I would love to see Loney hitting in the 2-hole for the Pirates next year. Everyone knocks him because he isn't the prototypical bomb-dropping first baseman everyone craves, but with the state of the market and the state of the Pirates, would anyone be against having a guy with a .299/.348/.430 line hitting between Marte and Cutch? I sure wouldn't.
Corey Hart - 1 year, $8 million
Hart provides a more versatile option for the Pirates. Having experience in the outfield, he could also provide help in right field (a hole I will address later). Coming off knee surgery, I wouldn't feel comfortable giving him anything more than a 1 year deal. Another hurdle to jump is that he seems intent on remaining in Milwaukee, but I wouldn't mind seeing him on the Buccos with his line of .329/.376/.578 at PNC Park.
Neil Walker is the guy for the time being. I don't see the Pirates going after anyone unless it's a utility guy that can play both sides of the infield.
Same deal goes for the hot corner; El Toro is the man.
This is an interesting position for the Pirates. While I believe Jordy Mercer is a solid shortstop for the time being, I wouldn't be against us making a trade for a higher upside SS like Jose Peraza (who is blocked by Andrelton Simmons) from Atlanta's farm system. If they could add a guy like him to go along with Alan Hanson, we would have a serious middle infield tandem setup for the future.
Names like Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta have been thrown around by Pirates fans, but I am not a fan of either of these players given their price tag. Though I wouldn't mind bringing Barmes back for a 1 year deal.
Left field, nope. Center field, seriously? Obviously the Pirates have 2/3 of their outfield figured out and secured for the foreseeable future (and right field if you are in on Gregory Polanco), but Polanco won't be up until the All-Star break at the very earliest and even that is a huge stretch. This leads me to believe that the Pirates will be looking for an option to help them win this year. If Huntington plans to be a big spender at one position, I think this will be the one.
Carlos Beltran - 2 years, $35 million w/ a $8 million club option
I know what you are probably thinking, "Beltran! Is this guy insane?!" I'm not insane; well maybe I am for continuing to follow this team throughout my lifetime, but I digress. Beltran would be the best possible addition to this team for multiple reasons. He would be a huge clubhouse presence with a roster filled with young (Latin American) players. More importantly, he would provide a real everyday player in front of the Clemente Wall (yes Pirates fans it is possible!), and could provide real protection behind Pedro in the order. I realize that money is always an issue with the Bucs, but that didn't stop them from signing Russell Martin last year.
Curtis Granderson - 3 years, $48 million w/ a $10 million player option
Same deal as Beltran, I know he is expensive, but think about the power production he would provide in PNC Park. He and Alvarez could possibly combine to hit 80 home runs. Granderson seems less likely than Beltran due to his Chicago ties and his price tag, but if Mr. Nutting wants to spend that money from the new TV deal, Grandy might be an option.
Now for some thriftier possibilities.
Corey Hart (see 1B)
Chris Young - 1 year, $5 million w/ a $5 million club option
Chris Young is an interesting candidate to fill the hole in RF until Polanco finds his way up to the bigs. He hits for power, strikes out a lot, and can field his position well. Adding him would likely make the Pirates outfield the fastest and one of the best in baseball in the field. It may be frustrating to add another strike out candidate to the already strike out prone lineup, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't be a nice addition to Tabata in RF.
I am going at this under the assumption that Burnett will not be back, and Taillon will not be up until around the All-Star break.
We have seen in the past that Neal Huntington prefers to go after high risk-high upside starting pitchers. I expect this offseason to be no different. There has been a lot of talk amongst Pirates fans about Josh Johnson, but he seems to be set on going out west. I have one guy that I would like to see back in Pittsburgh.
Paul Maholm - 2 years, $14 million
Please do not moan and groan about this possibility. These are not the Pirates of old, and Maholm will not asked to be the #1 like he was when he was last here. He is a solid 4 or 5 that will give us 200 innings. With the drop off of Locke and the uncertainty behind McPherson returning from Tommy John surgery. It would be nice to have a known commodity in Maholm finish off the rotation. While I expect Huntington to go after a higher-upside guy, I wouldn't mind having Paul back in the Burgh.
I do not expect the Pirates to go after any major bullpen help this offseason due to the success found with our younger power arms. I expect guys like
Kris Johnson (edit: Kris Johnson was traded for Duke Welker) and Brandon Cumpton to fill any open spots in the bullpen.
So here's to everyone's holiday season being filled with happiness, fun with family and friends, and a Pirates team locked and loaded for a 2014 playoff run.