Winter Meetings Notebook: Hot Stove Heating Up

Although nothing has been made official, the Pirates made their first major move of the Winter Meetings, nearing an agreement with free agent shortstop Bobby Crosby, formerly of the Oakland Athletics.  The Pirates have been looking for a shortstop who can push starter Ronny Cedeno defensively, and with Adam Everett signing with the Detroit Tigers yesterday, the pursuit of Crosby intensified.

Nothing has been confirmed, and Neal Huntington won’t even admit that a deal is close, although from all reports, it sounds like a done deal.  Rob Biertemfel reported that an agreement has been met, and is pending a physical.  The Pirates have a policy of not commenting on specific player negotiations, which is probably why Huntington won’t comment on Crosby’s signing.  Jerry Crasnick reported that the Pirates are finishing up the details of the deal, and that it should be done by the end of the week.  Crosby’s contract is reported to be a one year deal in the $1.5 M range, which would make him the seventh highest paid player on the roster.

The signing of Crosby isn’t going to make the Pirates a contender.  It’s not like the Akinori Iwamura trade where the Pirates greatly upgraded a specific position.  That’s not to say the move wasn’t a good one on a minor scale.

Crosby is similar in value to Ronny Cedeno.  Cedeno hit for a .258/.307/.394 line with the Pirates after the Jack Wilson trade last year.  Crosby is a career .238/.305/.378 hitter in 2391 at-bats in his career.  Cedeno is an offensive upgrade over Crosby if he can repeat the numbers he put up in 2009 with the Pirates.  However, Cedeno hit for a .252/.289/.350 line in 904 at-bats with the Cubs between 2005 and 2008, and hit for a .167/.213/.290 line in 186 at-bats with Seattle in 2009 before the trade.  His numbers looked good with the Pirates, but 155 at-bats is nothing to bank on.

On defense, Crosby clearly has the edge, with a career 4.1 UZR/150 at shortstop.  Cedeno has a career -5.6 UZR/150 ratio at shortstop.  Anyone who watched Cedeno after the trade last year knows he has the skills to be a great defensive shortstop, but needs to harness those raw skills to reach that level.  That’s probably why the Pirates were active in finding a strong defensive shortstop to push Cedeno in that area.

Crosby also serves as an insurance policy.  Cedeno is far from a guarantee.  His offensive numbers with the Pirates in 2009 could prove to be a fluke and he could revert to his Cubs numbers, or worse, his Seattle numbers.  If that happens, he’d have the same offensive numbers as Crosby, and if his defense doesn’t come around, that would make Crosby the better option.

There’s also the possibility that Crosby could be a sleeper with a move to the National League.  Crosby has a career .270/.339/.423 line with nine homers in 355 at-bats against National League teams, compared to a .232/.298/.370 line in 2036 at-bats against American League teams.

One thing is for sure, the Pirates don’t really have an above average option at shortstop going in to next season.  They should be strong at defense at the position though, and considering that up until this season the Pirates have been rolling out a lineup with Jack Wilson and his career .268/.310/.374 line, not having a lot of offense coming from the shortstop position is nothing new.

The biggest question in all of this is: will Crosby wear #87?

Doumit trade talks heating up?

We heard last week that Toronto had a “mild” interest in Ryan Doumit.  Dejan Kovacevic reported today that the Pirates were talking with Toronto about Doumit.  Seattle and San Francisco are also teams who could be talking with the Pirates, although Texas isn’t in pursuit of Doumit.

I mentioned in yesterday’s notebook that I felt Doumit is most likely to be traded during the Winter Meetings.  That’s mostly due to the lack of available catchers on the market, and the amount of teams looking for catching help.  The lack of catchers further decreased today as Washington signed Ivan Rodriguez.  Doumit also is a cheap option, making $8.65 M over the next two seasons, and under team control for four seasons, with the final two years serving as option years.

Kovacevic reports that one of his sources says that hard throwing right handed reliever Jeremy Accardo could be involved in these talks.  Accardo is a risk of being non-tendered by Friday’s deadline.  I reviewed Accardo and some other non-tender and waiver wire candidates in detail earlier today.  Last week I mentioned Travis Snider and Brett Cecil as options I’d like to see the Pirates obtain in a Doumit trade, and with the current catching market, one of those two could be a possibility, along with Accardo and a lower level prospect.

More Trade Rumors

-Nothing on Matt Capps today, although if the Pirates added Accardo it could mean the end is near for Capps.  The Pirates would have two former closers in Joel Hanrahan and Accardo, plus Evan Meek in the back of their bullpen.  Although I’m personally against trading Capps right now since his value is at a low point coming off a down season.  The Pirates could probably get more if Capps rebounds next season.

-Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted that the Dodgers “definitely like Paul Maholm”.  Of course there’s a big jump from “definitely liking” a pitcher and being involved in trade talks, so I don’t think much can be taken from this, other than interest by the Dodgers.

-I mentioned in the comments section of yesterday’s notebook that the Pirates could increase the value of their starting pitchers by waiting until some free agents go off the board.  Apparently the Pirates feel the same way.  The following is a quote from Neal Huntington on the subject from the recap of day two on

“If we were smart, we’d probably wait and let most of the options go off the board, and maybe we get somebody who is willing to be that much more aggressive,” he said. “As you see some starting pitchers go off the market, I think the value is high for quality starting pitchers. I think it’s something that we have to be open-minded to, but there are a lot of things being written that are inaccurate, with every organization.”

Winter Meetings Information
-As mentioned by Pat from WHYGAVS, the Crosby deal could take awhile to complete since it is dependent on the results of a physical.  Dave from Bucs Trade Winds suggested that the Pirates could delay the signing in order to select two Rule 5 picks on Thursday.  The Pirates have two open spots on the 40-man roster, and the deadline to clear a spot in order to make a Rule 5 pick was Tuesday at 5 PM EST.  The Pirates have the space to make two picks in the draft, assuming no other player is added before that time.  Of course that means a player would have to be removed from the 40-man roster when Crosby is added (and I wouldn’t be against seeing Brian Bixler go).
-I went over some players on waivers, as well as some non-tender candidates that could be a good fit for the Pirates.
-The Detroit Tigers signed former Pirates’ catcher Robinzon Diaz today, according to Dejan Kovacevic. With the Doumit talks going on, I feel we could have used Diaz on the roster as the backup to Jaramillo if Doumit is dealt.  However, in the long run I don’t think it’s a huge mistake to let him go, as we have Erik Kratz in AAA (assuming he doesn’t get taken in the Rule 5 draft by another team).
-Follow BUCCO on Twitter to get instant Winter Meetings updates.
-Keep track of all of the Pirates’ off-season additions with The Off-Season Tracker.
-Follow the Pirates’ 2010 payroll on the 2010 40-man roster/payroll page.  When Crosby’s deal becomes official I’ll be updating the 2010 salary projection.
-The Rule 5 draft is Thursday.  Check out my preview of the players available:
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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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