First Pitch: The First Base Rumor Mill is Active

Day one of the Winter Meetings is over, and it was pretty uneventful for most of the league. There were a lot of rumors — or for the Pirates there were actual rumors and topics to discuss — but nothing went down. That’s kind of expected after all of the moves that were made last week. A lot of the rumors today seemed to indicate that some moves could be made later this week. That was especially true with the first base market, which seemed very active today, with a lot of rumored discussions. I’ve rounded up all of the Pirates related rumors for first baseman below. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Pirates leave the Winter Meetings with a new first baseman.

James Loney

The Rays and the Pirates seem to be the top teams going after Loney. Rays manager Joe Maddon isn’t optimistic about Loney returning, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Last week there was a rumor saying Loney was emerging as the top choice for the Pirates. However, today most of the rumors surrounded trade options. It’s possible that the Pirates, and the Rays, are waiting for Loney’s price to drop. He was last seeking three years and $27-30 M total. Most of the market estimates I’ve seen have him work $7-7.5 M per year.

Logan Morrison

There was a lot of talk that the Marlins were on the verge of trading Morrison. MLBTR has a rundown of the rumors and the latest updates of all the teams who have been connected to him. The Pirates were connected to him today, with the interest reported as mild. The Rays were another team interested in Morrison, so it appears he’s the official alternate plan to Loney.

Mark Trumbo

Tim Brown of Yahoo reports that the Angels are seeking Tyler Skaggs or Trevor Cahill from the Diamondbacks for Mark Trumbo.

If you had any hope that Trumbo wouldn’t cost Jameson Taillon, then you might want to think again. Personally I’d rather have Loney and Taillon, rather than just Trumbo.

Adam Lind

The Pirates have been linked to Lind for the past week, although a report tonight out of Toronto said that the Blue Jays asked for Neil Walker in return. I’ve never been that high on Walker, but he has much more value than Lind when you consider that Walker is worth about a win more per year and would cost much less.

Ike Davis/Corey Hart

The Mets were exploring trades for Davis today, with four teams engaging them in trade discussions. No word on if the Pirates were one of those teams, although Milwaukee was named as one of them. That same link talks about how Corey Hart is also a possibility for the Brewers. They are one of about four teams who still need a first baseman.

Other Rumors and Links

**I’m finishing up the 2014 Prospect Guide this week, and submitting the order for the first shipment of books hopefully on Friday. You can still place your pre-orders here in order to ensure that your order goes out with the first shipment. I’ll have more announcements about the book later this week.

**The Pirates are Leaning Toward Staying In-House For Right Field. This is something I wrote about last week, as it looked pretty obvious after they acquired Jaff Decker and tendered a contract to Travis Snider. Neal Huntington didn’t rule out adding a right fielder, but did say they will be leaning toward the internal options.

**A.J. Burnett Still Undecided About Retirement. On a related note, the Pirates met with Bronson Arroyo’s agent. It seems that they’re looking for alternatives in case Burnett does opt for retirement. The Twins also met with Arroyo’s agent, and were pushing hard for him today.

**The Pirates Have Kept in Contact With Clint Barmes. They would be looking at him as a backup to Jordy Mercer. That wouldn’t be a bad move, since Barmes has been the best defensive shortstop in the majors over the last three seasons.

**Zack Thornton is an Option For the Astros in the Rule 5 Draft. A few weeks ago I wrote that I felt Thornton was the most likely to be selected from the Pirates. I’d say the chances are very good that he gets drafted by some team on Thursday, even if that team isn’t Houston.

**Winter Leagues: Polanco and Ramirez Lead Pirates Winter Class. John Dreker recaps the progress of all of the players in winter ball to date.

**From Sunday: Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Winter Meetings Preview. The Pirates haven’t added anyone yet, so that is still pretty relevant.

**From Sunday: When Will the Pirates Shed the Cheap Label? A lot of good discussion in the comments of this article.

  • You can take Trumbo off of your rumor mill. He just got traded to Arizona in a three team deal and will play left field.

  • Loney is waiting for someone to get stupid. Morrison is damaged goods – he has too much of a Twitter rep for causing discontent in a clubhouse. Moreland is a hard-nosed kid who will give the team everything he’s got. He’s got the glove, the bat could get better, 20+ HR’s last year looks nice, and his price is below reasonable and we have him for at least 3 more years. I have liked him every year the Rangers threatened to get a better hitting 1B. You never hear anything about the kid, he just packs his lunch bucket and comes to play every day. Loney had nice numbers in 2013, but he was an absolute Dud in 2012, and this is his 4th team in 4 years – that bothers me, and I think that he and Morrison are head cases. I would take Moreland straight up in a comparison to James Loney or Logan Morrison, so get on with it and sign this kid.

    • Loney might very well be a head case, I have no idea. However, his performance over the past 6 years establishes clearly that he is a “does not hit well” case. If the Pirates sign him to a multi-year deal, then he will also be a “bad contract” case.

    • Buddy, we can’t just sign Moreland. We would have to trade for him and I know they have looked in to it. My guess is Texas is asking for too much.

      As for mblthd – you keep posting how bad Loney is because he isn’t this big power first baseman. That is fine you are entitled to your opinion. My opinion is Loney is a perfect fit for the Bucs right now as long as he isn’t over payed. Great defense, solid clutch hitting and good doubles power. We don’t need another home run hitter right now. As for him being a head case, I have never hear anything to support that.

      • I haven’t heard one way or the other about his head. I suspect he has a screw loose if he honestly thinks someone will give him 3yrs/$30MM, but that might very well just be posturing by his agent.

        As for your “solid clutch hitting and good doubles power,” I don’t see it. He’s one year removed from being scrap-heap fodder (2012 OPS was 630 – horrific), 2013 was by far his best year since 2007, and it wasn’t even all that great – barely adequate for a 1B.

        If he can repeat his 2013 production, and I don’t see any reason to believe he will, then he’s maybe worth half of what he’s asking.

  • If the Bucs don’t sign Loney, I don’t think it’s out of the question that they try for Morrison. The price will surely drop for either after Loney signs with someone or Morrison is traded. So, should the Pirates wait for the Rays to play their card first and stand pat with their offer, or go for their choice? Either way, with the options the Pirates have for this coming season, 1B production can’t be as bad as last year.

    • CamJ, I agree with the strategy of waiting this one out when there’s not much difference between the players being considered. If LoMo is traded to TB, I really think Loney’s price drops considerably (to $4 – 5 mil/), as they seem to be the only other team with real interst in him. If TB signs Loney, the Bucs can play TOR and MIA against each other to get either Lind or LoMo for little in return. If Harrison + a PTBNL is all it takes (assuming the PTBNL is less than Harrison, i.e. a 20 – 30 prospect or even outside the top 30) for LoMo, pull that trigger and as someone else said sign IDJ a few minutes later. I also assume TOR was just asking for the moon regarding Walker to see if they could get him, and would be more realistic if they actually want to consummate a trade.

  • Tim, I’m glad I found your site. Question: Why not Mike Carp?

  • I fooget what all the Pirate rumors were last year, but did any of them come true?

    Was any of the talking/writing heads on Russ Martin? Frankie?

    As emjay alluded, IF any deal is made, it’ll be one ‘out of the blue’.

    However, it IS fun to talk about. Hence….’hot stove’ league.

    On that note, my sources tell me that the Reds are eating half of Votto’s salary and trading him to us for Taillon, Rojas, Sanchez and Wilson.

    • Pretty much all of the moves last year came out of nowhere. Russell Martin news came out two days before he was signed. There was talk that they would re-sign Grilli and eventually trade Hanrahan. Grilli was the only rumor that was drawn out. The Pirates made an offer during the Winter Meetings, then there were the conflicting reports on whether he had signed, and about five days later he was officially signed.

      Looking back at the rumors, it seems that the Pirates were looking at a lot of starting pitching options (Manny Parra, Rick Porcello, John Lannan. As we know, they ended up adding Francisco Liriano instead, which I’d say worked out well.

      Overall it’s fun to discuss the options, but it’s more than likely that the moves they make are the moves that we won’t hear about until they are made. We’ve already seen that twice this off-season with the Decker/Mikolas and Stewart trades.

  • CalipariFan506
    December 10, 2013 7:13 am

    How about Tabata for Smoak?

  • I agree Tim, I think the Bucs will have a new First Baseman by the end of the week. I still prefer Loney because he won’t cost any players but his price needs to come down. However if the rumor Jared posted about getting L. Morrison for Josh Harrison. I think the Bucs should jump on that.

    As for the Arroyo interest, he is about the last guy I want to see blocking J. Taillon.

    • NH is all about throwing fakes out (interest in Arroyo) to keep it stirred. He has always shown the gift of misdirection, so look for the first baseman who is not mentioned – Mitch Moreland. How about someone like Mel Rojas, Jr, or is that too much. I think he is locked into the minors for a long time – nowhere to go upward in the OF. If that is not enough we also have Gift Ngoepe and the proverbial bag O Balls I am sure NH has inquired, but I would like to know of the response from Texas.

      • I like that idea as there is no room for Rojas in our outfield. I do think Texas will want more though.

        • cs: They may want, but they have a guy in Moreland who is dead in the water. Maybe they would like to have Travis Snider, Andrew Lambo, Jose Tabata, or Josh Harrison. They need to not overplay their hand.

    • What about a potential Mike Carp for Vin Mazzaro (or similar) deal with the BoSox?

      • Not a bad idea at all.

        • I don’t know what to think of Carp actually…never really good minor league numbers, but decent…finally had a decent major league year last year against RH pitching only (basically) in Boston.

    • Cato the Elder
      December 10, 2013 9:05 am

      For what it’s worth, Jared also was throwing around the rumor that a middle reliever would be enough to get Lind, before it was reported that they were actually asking for Walker.

      • No, I believe I said it shouldn’t take more than a middle reliever…and it shouldn’t, a Walker-for-Lind is a non-starter.

        Interestingly enough Travis Sawchik of the TribReview reported than an AL club official believes the Pirates will attempt to trade an arm or TWO out of the bullpen.

        Must not be crazy after all, huh?

        • Specifically Sawchik named Gomez, Mazarro, and Bryan Morris.

          Cato, I am a little foggy, but those are our middle relievers last season, right?

          • I am not saying they won’t trade a middle reliever – they very well could – I don’t expect them to land a starting first baseman for one, like you have suggested elsewhere, but that is beside the point. The point is that if people are going to pick up on your rumors (specifically Harrison for Morrison), then 1) your other predictions provide some context 2) you might want to mention that the rumor involves an other unnamed player – who that is: you guess is as good as mine – but nowhere am I seeing Morrison for Harrison straight-up.


          • I’m with Cato 100%. It’s like you’re doing an impression of Skip Bayless and just twisting facts to suit you and throwing around enough stuff in hopes it sticks and you can be “right”.

    • Arroyo would take Burnett’s “spot” in he rotation as we would need another starter. No one is blocking tailion. When he is ready/ past the super 2, he will be up.

      • Arroyo is being looked at as a No. 3 or No. 4 where he would block Morton, Locke, Rodriguez, Cumpton, Gomez, Pimental, McPherson, etc. Last year at AA Nick Kingham had better numbers than Jameson Taillon, If Kingham comes out and makes it to AAA out of ST, he has a possibility of being in the majors in 2014 in addition to Taillon. Cole will be pitching in 2014 as a 23 year old, while Taillon and Kingham are 22 in 2014. Stay the course and keep obstructions out from in front of these kids.