Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi say the Pirates are one of the five teams in on BJ Upton. Upton is a right-handed bat with a bit of pop, obviously, but he’s never matched his 2007 breakout season at the plate and now much of his value is tied up in his defense. Since either he or Andrew McCutchen would have to move out of center, obviously that defensive advantage would be mitigated a bit.
Of course on the other hand, Upton’s just 26. He had shoulder surgery after 2007 that sapped his power a bit and it’s possible that a move to the NL will help his swing. He still draws walks and hits for some power, it’s just that he strikes out quite a bit and his BABIP has taken a huge plummet from 2007-2008 levels the last two seasons, which is why his batting average is miniscule. It’d be a risk, of course, because he won’t come cheaply from Tampa (he’s under control through 2012 and also Andrew Friedman is some kind of genius wizard, I think) and he’s not necessarily a guarantee to improve from his level of play this year. At the same time, the ceiling’s way higher than just about anyone else they could pick up and if he does regain his form, he’d certainly be a welcome addition to the outfield and the top of the lineup next to Andrew McCutchen.
Personally, an Upton trade would make me a bit wary because of the price and the risk that he’s wouldn’t even be close to worth it. There’s no indication of how serious the Pirates are, of course; they could simply be interested in what Tampa wants for a player they’re interested in taking a risk on. The last few days have made it pretty clear, though, that Huntington is definitely exploring quite a few options to improve this club, even if he hasn’t pulled the trigger on a deal yet.