MLB Rumors: Pittsburgh Pirates

Could Volquez stay in Pittsburgh? 

December, 9, 2014
Dec 9
4:21
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The Pittsburgh Pirates were able to bring back a key component of their 2014 rotation, agreeing to a three-year, $39 million deal with Francisco Liriano on Tuesday. Could the Bucs end up doing the same with Edinson Volquez?

Pirates ready to pay SP? 

November, 28, 2014
Nov 28
10:12
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are not likely to be among the teams that open up the vault in order to court the higher-priced free agents still on the market, but it doesn't look like this team is going to claim poverty and sit out the offseason either.

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Could Bucs lock up youngsters? 

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
10:09
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The Pittsburgh Pirates were unable to retain free agent catcher Russell Martin, who found $82 million of riches with the Toronto Blue Jays. If nothing else, it does give the Bucs more financial flexibility.

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Could Pirates pursue McCarthy? 

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
12:36
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After officially losing Russell Martin when the free agent signed a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Pittsburgh Pirates had to change course on their offseason goals in a hurry.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates purchased an insurance policy on their starting rotation Friday, agreeing to a one-year, $8.5 million deal with right-hander A.J. Burnett.

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Pirates focus on rotation 

November, 5, 2014
Nov 5
10:43
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In 2014, the starting rotation of the Pittsburgh Pirates won 55 games for the team, but now the club faces the possibility of losing the pitchers responsible for 36 percent of those victories through free agency.

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NL Central Hot Stove preview, by team 

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
1:18
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The World Series is officially over, which means all 30 major league teams are ready to look ahead to 2015 in hopes that they might be the ones holding the championship trophy next year at this time. Free agency doesn't officially kick in until five days from now, but the rumor mill is already buzzing with potential moves that might help those clubs who were watching on television this year become the center of attention next October.

Our snapshot of each of the six MLB divisions and what teams might have in the works this offseason continues today with a look at the National League Central.


Chicago Cubs

Big decisions: The biggest one -- who will manage this team? -- seems to be out of the way, as it seems the team's hiring of Joe Maddon is inevitable. As ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers notes, "It comes down to this: The Cubs can pay Maddon, have no deep ties to their current manager, who isn't a former player with the club or an up-and-comer such as Brad Ausmus or Matt Williams. The Cubs didn't finish above .500 like Seattle and even Milwaukee. In short, it's an easy decision to make, if it can get done."

Team needs: In terms of player makeup, as Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune notes, the Cubs are "intent to strike quickly with free-agent players … [and will] seek to add impact pitching as well as catching and a left-handed-hitting outfielder." … Once Maddon is in town, it might not be hard to imagine James Shields being willing to entertain a reunion with his former manager, and as Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, "nobody is hungrier for the kind of reliability, durability and quality that Shields brings than the Cubs."

Early buzz: With a glut of middle infielders to sift through and a ton of prospects on the verge of being ready for the major leagues, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden thinks that the Cubs "not only [have] a lethal group of position players coming to join Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Starlin Castro, but also enough top prospects to make deals for pitchers, such as Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto, if they decide to go that route." … Torii Hunter could provide the Cubs with a veteran presence in the clubhouse that would be welcome for what projects to be a very young lineup.


Cincinnati Reds

Big decisions: The Reds have four starting pitchers who are scheduled to become free agents after the 2015 season. They're unlikely to sign the entire quartet to extensions, so in order to maximize return, they'll have to decide if they want to deal away Cueto this winter. Picking up his 2015 option doesn't remove that possibility.

Team needs: Offense was a problem for the Reds last season, particularly in left field, which, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes, "was the most-shared position on the club" in 2014, with seven players starting there. Fay correctly predicted that Ryan Ludwick's contract would be bought out, leaving the door open for a change, most likely achieved through trade.

Early buzz: Talk that the Boston Red Sox, a team that could use some pitching help, might be looking to deal away Yoenis Cespedes makes it possible that the Reds explore that possibility. … Because of his high salary and the potential to promote either Jesse Winker or Kyle Waldrop, Jay Bruce has been named as a trade possibility. ESPN.com's Mark Simon suggests the New York Mets might be willing to "[buy] low on someone who has two years (with an option) and more than $25 million left on his contract."


Milwaukee Brewers

Big decisions: When it comes to 2015 roster decisions, the most pressing decision is at third base, with Aramis Ramirez and the team holding a mutual 2015 option for $14 million. It could go either way, but the team's recent claim of Luis Jimenez from the Los Angeles Angels certainly was made in order to give the Brewers at least one alternative should things not work out.

Team needs: Assuming Ramirez does return and the Brewers don't need to explore options such as Pablo Sandoval, their primary focus likely will be in the bullpen. Tom Gorzelanny, Francisco Rodriguez and Zach Duke are all headed for free agency. While top-tier options might be in short supply, adding an arm from a tier that includes Chris Perez, Jason Motte and Jim Johnson may end up being the path this team chooses to travel. … With Lyle Overbay looking likely to retire and free agent Mark Reynolds having not quite lived up to expectations in his half of the 2014 platoon at first base, an upgrade in the form of Adam LaRoche or Michael Cuddyer is clearly in order.

Early buzz: Toward the end of the season, there was some discussion that Ryan Braun could potentially be moved to first base in 2015, which would allow Milwaukee to start Khris Davis, Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra in the outfield on a regular basis, and also let the team devote free-agent dollars to the pitching staff. If Ramirez does end up getting a big contract to stay, there might not be enough extra cash lying around to prevent that experiment from becoming a necessity.


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Martin to be in high demand? 

October, 26, 2014
Oct 26
11:22
AM ET
When the list of Gold Glove finalists was released earlier this week, Russell Martin of the Pittsburgh Pirates was one of the three National League catchers honored with a nomination. The accolades only add to the price tag for the free agent to return to Pittsburgh next season -- a decision that has yet to be made.

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Davis on the market again? 

October, 17, 2014
Oct 17
9:02
AM ET
Last winter, when he was still with the New York Mets, Ike Davis's name came up time and again as a potential trade candidate. It wasn't until mid-April, though, that the Pittsburgh Pirates finally decided to take the first baseman for a test drive and pulled the trigger on a deal.

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Decision time for Pirates? 

October, 9, 2014
Oct 9
1:41
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As Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes, only four of the six pitchers who ended up with more than 100 innings pitched in 2014 for the Pittsburgh Pirates -- Gerrit Cole, Vance Worley, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke -- are under contract for next season.

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Pirates pleased with coaching staff 

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
12:31
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After making the playoffs for the second consecutive season following a two decades-long postseason drought, it probably wouldn't be a surprise to learn that the Pittsburgh Pirates organization is quite content with the leadership they've hired to run the day-to-day operations of the team.

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Who's on first for Pirates? 

October, 6, 2014
Oct 6
11:13
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The Pittsburgh Pirates enter this offseason with four arbitration-eligible corner infielders -- Pedro Alvarez, Ike Davis, Gaby Sanchez and Josh Harrison -- and the decision as to what to do with this quartet of players will likely dictate the organization's pursuit of free agents.

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Will Martin be back with Pirates? 

October, 2, 2014
Oct 2
1:38
PM ET
While the Pittsburgh Pirates played the last game of their 2014 season on Wednesday night, their fans certainly made it clear that they're hoping Russell Martin has not played his last game for the team.

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Who starts in NL wild card? 

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
1:35
PM ET
If the season ended after play on Thursday, the San Francisco Giants would be squaring off against the Pittsburgh Pirates in next Wednesday's wild card showdown. Although the Pirates still have a chance to catch the St. Louis Cardinals and avoid that single-elimination contest, the Giants are locked into that affair.

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Pirates hoping Martin comes back? 

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
9:03
AM ET
The Pittsburgh Pirates are crossing their fingers that they won't be without Russell Martin for long after the catcher had to leave Wednesday's game with tightness in his left hamstring.

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