A Look At the Free Agent Market
It is not my belief that the Pirates will be very active in free agency this winter. I pretty much expect the team we see now to be the team they go forward with into next season. With that being said there are 5 areas (mostly depth) that I expect them to look at. I think at least a couple of them will be filled via trades but for now lets just focus on potential free agent targets.
The Pirates will almost assuredly be looking for a catcher this offseason. The free agent market for catchers is relatively deep so it would make some sense for the Pirates to explore that option. I don’t see them being players at the top of the market for Napoli or Pierzynski but I don’t see them going for just a pure backup type. The Pirates are probably going to look for someone to team with McKenry and form a good catching duo. Looking at just players who I believe the Pirates have a reasonable chance at getting (I would be stunned if David Ross doesn’t resign with the Braves) I see 3 potential candidates.
Russell Martin, Kelly Shoppach, Gerlad Laird
The Pirates could obviously use an upgrade at shortstop but with Barmes under contract and a weak top of the market it is my expectation that Barmes will remain the starting shortstop. However it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Pirates sign another option who could also come off the bench. The Pirates have a handful of options but none of them are really established and carrying two of them on the bench is probably a bad idea. The Pirates could also use a left handed hitter for the bench as currently no left hander is projected to make the bench and the only ones really under consideration are Snider and Jones (who should end up starting) and Holt who I think starts in AAA. It isn’t necessary for the player to be left handed but the 3 best options I see all are (one is a switch hitter).
Macier Izturis, Adam Kennedy, Mike Fontenot
With Marte and Snider looking like the likely starters in the corners the Pirates may want to look for some sort of an insurance plan in the outfield corners. They do have Jones but that would leave Sanchez as an everyday starter at 1B which isn’t ideal. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Tabata and Presley kept as the backup plan but I expect the Pirates will at least look at other options. I don’t foresee the Pirates being in the market for a starter but rather a good solid bench player who can step up if needed. Ideally the players will have some good OBP skills but those are difficult to find in a 4th outfielder so the Pirates will probably have to settle for a different type of player.
Austin Kearns, Reed Johnson, Kosuke Fukudome
The rotation is where I expect the Pirates to go out and make their biggest splash. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were in the market for a Dan Haren or Edwin Jackson but in reality I do not think they will land a pitcher of that caliber. The Pirates will probably have to focus on the next tier where there is still some significant value but also some significant risk. The Pirates have to have concerns about McDonald and Karstens so adding an extra arm is almost a must. There are several candidates that fit here but I’m trying to keep it at three so …
Gavin Floyd, Francisco Liriano, Carlos Villanueva
The Pirates will probably be in the market for a couple cheap fungible bullpen arms. It wouldn’t surprise me to see one added through the Rule V draft but for the purposes of this exercise the relief pitchers that make the most sense are …
Kyle Farnsworth, Jason Frasor, Jon Rauch
The above are names that I think make sense for the Pirates. They aren’t obviously the best names in the market but they are the ones who I think will likely fit what the Pirates will be looking for this offseason. I’m anticiapting the Pirates being active on the front this offseason (Hanrahan, Karstens and one of Jones/Snider/Tabata at least) but they will probably add some players via free agency and the ones I list above are my bst guesses of who they will add.