The Winter Meetings are here (UPDATED)

Today is the first official day of baseball's annual Winter Meetings, which means that for the first four days or so of this week we'll be innundated with tons of rumors and who knows how much actual payoff for those rumors by the time Thursday rolls around. The Pirates have claimed that they're going to be pretty quiet this week, but I'm not sure that's entirely true. They need starting pitching for sure after the Jeff Karstens non-tender last week, and I think that most signs probably point to them trading Joel Hanrahan at some point before Christmas. They'll almost certainly try hard to do so in the next few days. As always, I'll post updates on the rumors and reports that get floated as I see them. If you're interested in following along, I'll update this post for today with the biggest news getting its own post, though you'll probably just want to start at MLB Trade Rumors, because no one follows this kind of stuff as well as they do. 

Let's get started with this: the Mariners are interested in Garrett Jones and the Pirates would want to try to piggyback Hanrahan onto that sort of deal to increase the return. I've written a few times that I think that now would be a great time to sell high on Jones, though I'm sure that a Jones/Hanrahan trade would throw most of Pittsburgh into a blood rage that would result in me retiring from the internet for forever. The proposed deal above is Jones + Hanrahan + "one other throw-in" for Hector Noesi, Justin Smoak, and John Jaso. With Russell Martin in the mix it's hard to believe the Pirates would be interested in Jaso at this point (though, to be fair, being able to trade for Jaso is the exact reason why I thought signing Martin was not a great idea). I don't think that Noesi is by any means the answer to the Pirates' pitching concerns, and Smoak has been hugely disappointing at the plate to this point in his career. My gut feeling here is that if the Pirates are trading Hanrahan and Jones that I'd hope they could do better than this.

LUNCHTIME UPDATES 12:46 PM: Rob Biertempfel says the Pirates are interested in John Lannan as a rotational replacement for Jeff Karstens (which is weird since he'd be nearly as expensive and less good), while he adds more smoke to the "sell high on Garrett Jones" notion by saying that the Orioles would probably be interested. The Orioles do have some young pitching that might interest the Pirates (Biertempfel mentions Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton), though there's not much evidence that that young pitching would be very good.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

The winter meetings are here!

Ah, the winter meetings! Where rumors fly about big name free agents, while Pirate fans hope that we’ll make a non-disastrous trade or make a really cool Rule 5 pick. 

DK has a bunch of the pre-winter meetings stuff covered in his article today: the Pirates are, in fact, actively looking for a shortstop, their interest in Brandon Webb has been dialed down though they might be the favorites for Scott Olson, they may be interested in right handed power now that Lastings Milledge is gone, and they’ll almost certainly make a pick in the Rule 5 draft this week and that pick could be Aneury Rodriguez. 

Taking each of these in stride, we’ve talked plenty about shortstops and while Hardy would be a nice upgrade over Cedeno, Bartlett would be a bigger gamble. He was actually worse than Cedeno according to WAR last year and though he might benefit from a switch to the NL, he’s 31 and betting on that isn’t exactly wise. Swapping out Cedeno for Bartlett would be making a change for the sake of making a change and not necessarily an upgrade.

I’m a little disappointed that the Pirates won’t sign Webb, but I’m not exactly surprised. The only thing they have to offer him is a chance to pitch and I sort of figured at some point, a contender that needs a pitcher would give him a shot. I’m surprised that Jeff Francis’s name wasn’t listed in DK’s story, though. There’s obviously some concern about his health as well, but most of the numbers on his FanGraphs page suggest that he pitched pretty well last year, that 5.00 ERA notwithstanding. His FIP and xFIP were both very good and in line with his career numbers, his fastball velocity was actually above where it was when he got hurt, and his groundball rate was also very good. There are obviously some durability issues, but I’d rather have Francis than Olsen. 

As for right-handed power, I don’t think the Pirates will get Derrek Lee to sign with them (he rejected a trade to Anaheim last year because they were out of contention), and I don’t think that the other options (Xavier Nady, Matt Diaz, Jeff Francouer … seriously, I might fold up the blog forever if we sign Jeff Francouer) are much better than what the Pirates already have in Steve Pearce. At the very least, I’d rather give Pearce a real chance to play before going out and overpaying someone that’s already way over the hill.

I like Aneury Rodriguez last year and was surprised to see the Pirates grab John Raynor over him. He’s pitched in Triple-A now and pitched fairly well there, which would theoretically make him an even stronger pick, but it makes me nervous that Tampa keeps exposing him to the draft. Maybe that’s because, as Charlie notes, his changeup isn’t great and he’s more likely to be a reliever than a starter, but since Tampa’s front office is one of baseball’s best I’m a little suspect that they’re willing to part with a guy that seems like such an obvious choice to pick in the draft. That could just be me overanalyzing things, of course. 

In any case, I’ll do my best to get updates posted as necessary this week during the meetings. The quickest way to get word out is always via Twitter (you can follow me here), but so long as I’m hanging around in lab and at the computer I’ll be getting full posts up as quick as I can. 

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

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