Beyond the Rule 5 draft, I don’t think there’s a lot that’s going to actually happen to the Pirates in Indianapolis this week. I’d guess that any free agent that the team might be in on is likely not going to sign until some time in 2010 and any trade they make is going to be with a team that’s decided they can’t make their budget for one reason or another. For the Pirates, this week will probably be more about laying groundwork than actually doing anything.
There are things I expect to hear anyways. I think that someone will connect Zach Duke or Paul Maholm to a contender looking to round out their rotations (UPDATE BEFORE PUBLISHING: I wrote most of this around midnight last night and there’s already a rumor about Duke and Maholm). There will probably be a Matt Capps rumor that floats around. I don’t really think that Maholm or Duke are going anywhere this off-season, though I suppose Capps or Ryan Doumit might be. If they are, I don’t expect it this week.
The thing is, I’m still not sure what to make of stories like this one; ones that imply that Neal Huntington has about $20 million burning a hole in his pocket and he aims to spend it come hell or high water. Of all of the “big name” free agents available, the only one that makes a modicum of sense for the Pirates is Rich Harden because of his age and talent. Guys like Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, and John Lackey are more final pieces than building blocks at this point in their careers. Everyone knows that about Harden, though, and everyone needs pitching and he’s not signing with the Pirates for any amount of money short of a being offered an ownership stake in the Steelers.
I’ve said this a million times, but this is a complicated offseason for the Pirates. The bulk of their rebuilding is clearly being done through the draft and the impact there is clearly being seen, but that’s a long process. From Huntington’s two drafts, only Pedro Alvarez is close to the Majors. The Pirates are simply better served figuring out what they have in the players that we’ve been talking about so far this offseason than they are bringing someone in from the outside, no matter how much money they have to spend.