Most of the excitement in every Pirates' off-season centers around the Rule 5
Sorry, just had a flashback. This year, the Pirates actually did stuff in the winter meetings. So much stuff that, as far as I can tell, nobody even bothered to ask Neal Huntington whether they planned to pick anybody in the Rule 5 draft. In past years, the subject always came up before the draft. This year the roster stands at 39. The team may have left a spot open due to the pending deals with Francisco Liriano and Radhames Liz, but it also may be an indication that they're at least considering a pick. They probably don't know for sure because they're picking so low this year.
This draft seems to have more talent than usual. The Pirates don't, however, seem to be at much risk of losing players. Baseball America has posted a list of notable players available in the draft that includes about 75 names. The only Pirates' prospect mentioned is RHP Yhonathan Barrios (pictured), a very raw, former infielder with an upper-90s fastball but little in the way of command or secondary pitches. In addition, Huntington has said he's heard no buzz about his own players. Nevertheless, Rule 5 picks tend to be very quirky and many come out of the blue. For what it's worth, Stetson Allie, Mel Rojas, Gift Ngoepe and Keon Broxton could all conceivably be candidates to be selected.
In other news, Detroit has acquired Yoenis Cespedes for Rick Porcello and reportedly is trying to acquire one of the Reds' starters. And the Dodgers have traded, um, everybody for everybody. You have to be impressed with the ability of their new front office to juggle a host of moving parts in the course of two days and have it all add up in the end, like trading their second baseman and using one acquired piece to get another second baseman, while also acquiring the absence of Dan Haren.
Anyway, the Rule 5 draft is at noon.
UPDATE: The Marlins reportedly are in talks with the Reds over Mat Latos. It could be a rough winter for Reds' fans.