In the past 24 hours or so, Dejan at the Post-Gazette has reported that the Pirates are interested in Justin Duchscherer, while the Kansas City Star is reporting that the Pirates are interested in Jamey Wright.
Duchscherer would be a great pickup for the Pirates if he’s physically healthy and all of his lingering injury and depression issues coupled with the potentially slow market could mean that he’s a little more realistic than some of our past offseason targets. That will be dictated by who else is interested in him, but if there are no obvious choices for him and we have to pay a little extra to go out and get him, that’s something the Pirates have the ability to do this winter with their low payroll. So long as we don’t make him a Jeff Suppan offer, I’d be OK with that.
Wright is considerably less interesting in his own right, but when combined with Duchscherer we can get an insight into what Neal Huntington is looking to do this offseason. Wright has been a pretty extreme groundball pitcher the last four seasons with his worst GB/FB ratio being 1.96 with the Rangers in 2007, while the other three were 2.45 or better. With Duchscherer’s strength being an incredible arsenal of pitches that keeps hitters off balance rather than a power arm and a lot of strikeouts, that makes two pitchers who don’t fit the “power arm, unreliable command” mold that Huntington’s so clearly favored in the past.
Instead, both Wright and Duchscherer are guys that have some intrinsic value that has the potential to be overlooked, meaning that they may be available to the Pirates. Wright has a poor career ERA mostly because he spent a large amount of his career as a back-end starter. Since moving to the bullpen, his groundball tendency has been much more pronounced and with a decent defense behind him, he’s probably not a bad long-relief option. Duchscherer’s struggle with clinical depression last year probably scares more people off than his recurring hip and shoulder injuries.
The one question? If the Pirates really are interested in someone like Duchscherer, are they planning on keeping the current rotation intact and simply see a guy they feel like they have to go after, or are they planning on moving someone that’s currently in the rotation and looking for depth?