Adam Berry has some thoughts from Neal Huntington on next week's Winter Meetings. There's certainly the potential to read way too much into a few brief quotes while we wait for things to happen, but it sounds like the Pirates will strongly consider trades as their main way of addressing the 2017 team this offseason.
"In this environment, you might see more teams inclined to look to see what a trade will cost. With the shallowness of the free-agent market, your trade acquisitions are going to be increased as well." ...
"We'll see how things transition as the market opens up. In a vacuum, sure, we'd love to have a veteran arm," Huntington said. "It needs to be the right veteran that we believe is better than what we have and can help us win games and eat those innings."
Beware the phrase "eat those innings," which almost never means "pitch those innings well." Perhaps that's too cynical, though -- this is the Pirates, so there's always hope that their "innings eater" turns out to be much better than anticipated.
Anyway, the idea of addressing the rotation through a trade, rather than through the free agent market, makes more sense with each day that goes by. There wasn't much on the free agent market to begin with, and many of the affordable mid-market types have already agreed to terms with someone else, including Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Andrew Cashner and Charlie Morton.
Huntington also suggests, by the way, that the Pirates could pursue a setup type of reliever on the trade market as well. There's still a bunch of relief pitching available on the free agent market, but if the Bucs do trade for a reliever, I would expect it to be not because they'd rather avoid paying free agent prices, but because there are arms available through the trade market that they like better.