Rob Biertempfel tweets today that the Pirates are “[moving] closer” to signing both Nate McLouth and Wilson Betemit. As long as McLouth is in on a one-year deal, I have no problem with him being a fourth outfielder and maybe even spelling Jose Tabata from time to time, both in hopes of keeping him healthy and giving the Pirates the occasional platoon advantage. (UPDATE: Looks like this deal really is close, as per everyone else that covers the team)
Betemit would really only make sense as Pedro Alvarez Insurance. Given that we’ve seen the Pirates interested in Ian Stewart and Mark DeRosa this winter, it’s clear that they want some form of contingency in case Alvarez comes to camp out of shape or in case he never starts hitting again. Betemit’s been pretty decent as a part-time player in Kansas City and Detroit the last two years, hitting .290/.359/.479 with 21 homers and 42 doubles in 674 PAs.
He’s a switch-hitter that beats up on right-handed pitching, which I guess might make him an option at first base, as well, should Alvarez establish himself and the team elects to non-tender Garrett Jones (Jones is suspiciously missing from the list of Pirates that will be at PirateFest, though obviously he might have some other kind of obligation preventing him from attending). The danger is that his glove is pretty notoriously bad at third base and I doubt it’d be an upgrade at first, where he doesn’t really enough to justify a ton of playing time. Regardless, I think Betemit’s a useful bench piece and a better option behind Alvarez at third than Chase d’Arnaud or Josh Harrison, so he’d be a nice pickup on a short-term deal.