The door swung open for LHP Erik Bedard, OF Nate McLouth and C Jose Morales and shut on SS Pedro Ciriaco and C Jason Jarmillo as the FO earned their money today.
Bedard is the most interesting pick-up. The veteran lefty has eight years in the league, all in the junior circuit, and adds a southpaw that can miss bats to the Pirate rotation. He's 56-50 with a 3.70 career ERA and notched 8.8 Ks per nine innings over that span, so at least he and J-Mac have strikeout stuff.
The Pirates signed him to a plain vanilla one-year contract for $4.5M; no option, no buy-out. In him, they have a guy who can realistically provide 25 starts and 150 innings with an ERA south of four. His caveat emptor - too much time in the tub. He hasn’t pitched more than 150 innings since 2007, and missed the 2010 season due to injuries. But he's been effective when he can take the hill, and if healthy, he'll be the Bucs default number one pitcher. A nice, out-of-the-blue signing.
Nate McLouth officially rejoined the team, not that he'd know anyone who's left in Pittsburgh since his trade. Nate the Great signed for a year at $1.75M, and will be an insurance policy for the pup Alex Presley and the oft-injured Jose Tabata in the corners. He also comes with health concerns and a terrible stretch in Atlanta, so we'll see what he has left in the tank. Clint Hurdle was asked if going "home" to the Pirates will help. His response, as reported by Rob Biertempfel of the Trib: "It worked for Dorothy."
Jose Morales is a good stick but with no power and good throw-'em-out catcher but not otherwise thought of as a strong defensive guy. Morales is athletic enough that he's played some infield, but his primary position is behind the dish. He's a switch-hitter who was inked to a minor league deal with an
invite to camp, so apparently he's gonna get a shot at being the reserve
His odds improved dramatically when Jason Jaramillo was DFA'ed, along with Pedro Ciriaco. The moves caught us a bit off guard for two reasons: one, we thought both had a shot at bench jobs come spring, and two, we expected guys who the Pirates were planning to non-tender would get the ax first. So it may be that there's still some internal debate about the arb-eligible players getting offers, either through a hearing or contract, or the FO plans on making a couple of other moves.
A couple of media sources have said the Bucs are out of the IF Wilson Betemit auction. Rumors still have them linked to Mark DeRosa and Ian Stewart. They're also thought to have some interest in LHP Jeff Francis, who the FO tried to bring to Pittsburgh last year.
Hey, not a bad hot stove season so far. The Pirate attack hasn't been improved enough to notice, but they did at least bring in a pitcher with better upside than anchoring the bottom of the rotation. And hey, maybe they have another out-of-the-box deal in the works...we hope.