The Cubs have reportedly stepped up their discussions with the Pirates regarding two left-handed pitchers, John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. Grabow could provide some help in the bullpen, which now has only one lefty in Sean Marshall. Gorzelanny was 4-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis.
— Carrie Muskat
Hours after trading Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to the Mariners and Freddy Sanchez to the Giants, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington was asked if the organization — which has also already dealt Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett and Adam LaRoche this summer — was finally done dealing.
Huntington downplayed the necessity of making any more deals. But at the same time, he didn’t close the door.
“We continue to have ongoing dialogue,” Huntington said. “We’re not looking to make any more trades. We weren’t looking to make these trades. We don’t need to make other trades. But if the right baseball opportunity presents itself, it’s certainly something we take a look at. Again, if it’s strong enough, we move forward.”
At this point, lefty reliever John Grabow would seem to be the most likely left to go. He’s the only player remaining on the roster who is set to be a free agent at season’s end. And as prompted the decisions to trade LaRoche, Wilson and Sanchez, the Pirates don’t like to lose players to free agency without getting something in return.
The Marlins and Cubs are known to have interest in Grabow, though it may take Orioles lefty reliever George Sherill being dealt before the Pirates get substantial offers from teams looking to add a veteran lefty in the ‘pen.
Add the Marlins to the list of teams interested in Pirates lefty reliever John Grabow.
According to a National League source, the Marlins and Pirates have discussed possible trade scenarios that would land Grabow in Florida.
Upgrading the bullpen remains a priority for the Marlins as they hope to improve their playoff chances.
Grabow, 30, has appeared in 44 games for Pittsburgh, while posting a 3-0 record and 3.57 ERA in 45 1/3 innings. The Marlins bullpen entered Wednesday with the fifth best ERA in the National League — 3.79.
In second place behind the Phillies in the National League East, the Marlins are in the process of searching for experienced relievers. Grabow broke in with the Pirates in 2003, and he’s been in 389 games.
A durable lefty, he was involved in a career high 74 games and 76 innings in 2008.
Pittsburgh’s third-round pick in 1997, Grabow has 39 strikeouts and 28 walks on the season. Ironically, left-handed hitters are batting .275 against him, while right-handers have a .246 average.
Grabow is signed for $2.3 million this year, and he will be eligible for free agency next season.
In recent weeks, Florida’s bullpen has added veteran right-handers Brendan Donnelly and Luis Ayala.
— Joe Frisaro
What to do with Ian Snell? There may not be any biggest discussion/dilemma in the Pirates’ front office right now. One month ago, the right-hander asked for a demotion to Triple-A, certainly not something you hear a player asking about every day. He also has expressed little interest in coming back to Pittsburgh. Since going to Triple-A Indianapolis, Snell has been unbelievable. He has allowed just two earned runs in 32 1/3 innings (five starts). He has 43 strikeouts and 12 walks.
So it’s no surprise that a number of clubs have already contacted the Pirates to see what it would take to land Snell.
The Yankees are the latest and have a scout at Indianapolis’ Victory Field on Sunday to watch Snell’s start. Though their level of interest in Snell isn’t known, it’s no secret that New York is in the market for a starting pitcher to replace Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation. Obviously, Snell is being looked at as a potential option.
A week ago, GM Neal Huntington made it clear that he does not plan on selling Snell low, even though no one is sure that Snell will ever be able to be successful in Pittsburgh because of the still-present friction between he and the organization based on how he left last month.
“Teams are still hoping to bottom fish and we’re still not ready to just give the guy away,” Huntington said. “At this point, his four or five strong outings haven’t increased his value [externally]. We’re not talented enough and deep enough as an organization to just give away a player that has Major League ability, as challenging as it can be sometimes.”
Still, the Pirates would prefer not to pay Snell’s $4.25 million guaranteed salary next season. And if the Yankees (or any other interested club for that matter) see Snell as a fit, maybe they’ll be willing to part with enough of a package to entice Pittsburgh and solve this problem.
— Jenifer Langosch
Now that Adam LaRoche has been traded to the Red Sox, it will create the type of redundancy Boston general manager Theo Epstein spoke of last week.
Epstein said the team was actually trying to create redundancy to cover themselves from a depth standpoint down the stretch. The Red Sox have an All-Star first baseman in Kevin Youkilis, but the presence of LaRoche will allow Mike Lowell to rest his surgically repaired right hip more often. Youkilis would play third on days Lowell sat.
Of course, the Red Sox already have a left-handed hitting backup first baseman in Mark Kotsay, but there again is the type of redundancy Epstein was referring to.
“We want to create as much depth and redundancy as we possibly can because if you don’t address depth before July 31 or in some cases in August, then you’re left without an opportunity to do so down the stretch and into what we hope will be another postseason,” Epstein said on July 17. “We’re going to read and react based on our health and based on the way some guys are playing and try to build as deep and as strong a position player core as we can.”
LaRoche, with 12 homers this season, offers the Red Sox some additional pop, and the offense has been slumping of late.
LaRoche is a free agent at the end of the season and is earning a salary of roughly $7 million this season. He is a possible Type B free agent, which means the Red Sox would get a draft pick if he signs with another organization.
As for the Pirates, they are likely to need a shortstop after this season with Jack Wilson headed for free agency. Hence, the acquisition of shortstop prospect Argenis Diaz — a terrific defender — in the deal for LaRoche. Diaz is 22 years old and is a good defender, albeit without much pop in his bat.
Still no word on how the Red Sox will get LaRoche on the 25-man roster.
Late last week, the Pirates extended contract offers to Freddy Sanchez (two years, $10 million) and Jack Wilson (two years, $8 million) with the intention of taking them off the trading block if each accepted. However, both have rejected their individual offers and neither has presented the Pirates with a counter offer.
What does this mean? Pirates general manager Neal Huntington sees the absence of a counter offer as a sign that neither of the two middle infielders sees the Pirates’ value matching up with their expectations. And if dialogue doesn’t reopen between the various sides, the Pirates plan on listening to offers from clubs interested in acquiring either player in advance of the July 31 deadline.
Sanchez has garnered more interest than Wilson, but his $8 million club option — which will become guaranteed with 600 plate appearances this season — could be an obstacle, as other teams haven’t been overly enthusiastic about taking that on. Unless Sanchez is to get hurt, he will easily surpass those 600 needed plate appearances.
Wilson has a club option worth $8.4 million for 2010, but there is no way he can make that guaranteed. As a result, a club could pick him up as a two-month rental if wanted.
What will the Pirates seek in return? They desperately need some Major League ready or near Major League ready middle infielders. The organization also covets young pitching, so look for that to be high on the priority list as well.
— Jenifer Langosch
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB