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Pirates rumors: Bucs interested in Justin Masterson

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have interest in free agent starting pitcher Justin Masterson, Travis Sawchik reports.

Like Trevor Cahill, Masterson would be a reclamation-project type and would hopefully not be the Pirates' main pitching acquisition this winter. Masterson does have something to offer, though. Like Cahill, he's relatively young was once a very good and very ground-ball-prone starter.

actually thought the Pirates might identify Masterson as a target last winter, after he followed a terrific 2013 season with the Indians with an awful year in Cleveland and St. Louis. Fortunately, they didn't -- Masterson had injury troubles and suffered another decline in velocity (after already having had a pretty significant velocity decline in 2014), and was terrible yet again. After having arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in September, though, perhaps he'll be something closer to his 2013 self next season.

Or perhaps not. There appears to be a significant chance that Masterson won't do much of anything in 2016, so signing him would appear to be a speculative move. The key will be gambling on his upside, and not giving him too much rope if it doesn't work out. If the Pirates do sign Masterson, they can't go into Spring Training without other good options to fill the back of their rotation. Signing him to an incentive-based one-year deal does make sense to me, though, as long as his medicals are good.