Such pitchers are immensely coveted, but difficult to part with. The Pirates would prefer to move a reliever -- their three left-handed relief specialists include closer Mike Gonzalez. But starters have greater trade value.
The Pirates, who want to add a left-handed hitting slugger at right field or first base, surely would be tempted if they could acquire such a bat -- the Diamondbacks' Chad Tracy, for example -- for one of their starting pitchers.
Free-agent possibilities such as Trot Nixon and Aubrey Huff are likely to be snapped up by more competitive clubs.
I'm no fan of Huff, but I don't see this scenario ending well. As many rumors as there have been, I honestly can't see Littlefield trading Maholm, Duke or Gorzelanny - bold trades aren't Littlefield's M.O. If Littlefield can't even get the likes of Huff or Nixon on the free agent market, he may just reach down even further. Remember after the 2003 season, when it became clear that Littlefield wasn't going to get Reggie Sanders, Kenny Lofton, Matt Stairs and Jeff Suppan for $1 million apiece again? Instead of adjusting his strategy, Littlefield just sank lower, paying similar prices to Raul Mondesi, Chris Stynes and Randall Simon.