The first day of MLB’s Winter Meetings is in the books
Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings kicked into high gear on Monday. As general managers and team executives convened in Las Vegas, trade and free agent rumors began to swirl around baseball.
Entering the Winter Meetings the Pittsburgh Pirates are searching for shortstop help. The team could also use another starting pitcher, and a left-handed reliever. While no moves were made by the team on day one of the meetings, general manager Neal Huntington still met with the media to discuss the state of the Pirates.
While many fans will overreact to this and say the Pirates are content to enter the season with Newman and Gonzalez as their shortstop options, odds are, this is not true. What Huntington told the media on Monday was simply GM speak. Remember, the day before the team traded Jordan Luplow to the Cleveland Indians Huntington expressed confidence in Luplow as an option for right field with Gregory Polanco out.
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Speaking of Polanco, Huntington gave the first update on Polanco since the end of the regular season. Huntington told the media that the Pirates will have better idea of when Polanco may be ready for action once Spring Training begins. Polanco’s shoulder can not truly be tested post surgery until he begins to throw in the spring. If his shoulder reacts well, we could see the Pirates’ right fielder be ready to begin his 2019 sooner than originally anticipated.
Huntington also expressed interest in adding to the bullpen. In fact, he brought this up twice. The team has a great bullpen core with Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Kyle Crick, and Richard Rodriguez, but they need another left-handed reliever. The team also needs to replace Edgar Santana who will miss the season due to Tommy John Surgery.
There was also news outside of Huntington meeting with the media. There were reports of the Pirates discussing a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks involving shortstop Nick Ahmed. Earlier this offseason we identified Ahmed as a potential trade target, which you can read about here. On paper, Ahmed would provide a big boost to the shortstop position as he is arguably the best defensive shortstop in the National League.
Speaking of trades, rumors continue to swirl about catcher Francisco Cervelli. The Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Oakland Atheltics, and Philadelphia Phillies are all teams that the Pirates are having discussions with pertaining to Cervelli.
Cervelli, along with Corey Dickerson and Ivan Nova, were players Huntington was asked about on Monday. All three of these players are entering the final year of their contracts, making them potential trade chips. However, as the Pirates prepare to make a run at competing for the postseason in 2019 they would need to add players capable of immediately helping at the MLB level. Or, as Huntington put it, the team would need to find a deal that makes sense in the ‘big picture’.
Expect the Pirates to continue to be engaged on multiple fronts the rest of the week. It may not come this week, but it would be a surprise if the team does not add a shortstop and a left-handed reliever before the end of the offseason.