The 2013 winter meetings have produced some intriguing storylines to follow heading into the latter half of the offseason. With the conclusion of the summit set for Thursday along with the annual Rule 5 draft, the window of opportunity to piece together a deal in Orlando is rapidly closing.
The Pirates have been involved on several fronts so far but have been cautious in their approach, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
With the decision to part ways with Garrett Jones, who signed with the Florida Marlins, a first baseman could be a target.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post indicated that Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison has been discussed by the Pirates as a potential option. The 26-year-old lefty hit .242 with six home runs, 36 RBI and had an OPS of .709 in an injury-shortened 2013 season that only saw him appear in 85 games.
Morrison played in the spacious Marlins Park, which held the honor as being the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in terms of home runs, as per ESPN's MLB Park Factors. It's important to note that PNC Park was second, right behind Marlins Park, though the short porch in right field is more enticing at 320 feet down the line versus 335 feet.
The Pirates have also had discussions with free-agent James Loney, as per ESPN's Buster Olney. Loney had a slash line of .299/.348/.430 with 13 home runs, 75 RBI and 33 doubles with the Tampa Bay Rays last season.
The bullpen was one of the strengths of the Pirates last year, but it could prove to aid in the team's acquisition of help in an area of need, as per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. With the news that interest has been strong in left-handed reliever Justin Wilson, via Fox Sports' Jon Morosi, the possibility of the team making a trade has been floated over the past two days.
Along with the indication that the Washington Nationals have picked up their search for a lefty reliever, via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Biertempfel indicated that a deal makes sense—especially with the team's "logjam" at first base.
Peter Gammons made a passing mention of a possible Wilson for Mitch Moreland deal on MLB Network, too (via Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report). Steve Kinsella of Sports Talk Florida indicated the same thing hours later.
Wilson, 26, went 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and had 14 holds in 73.2 innings, which was tops in the Pirates bullpen among relievers who didn't make a spot-start.
Moreland, 28, hit .232 in 462 at-bats last season, but he did manage to mash 23 home runs and 60 RBI. The left-handed slugger has some definite pop but struggled at times.
Improving the starting rotation is another area of interest for the Pirates, as the team has been active in the absence of A.J. Burnett's decision to return, retire or leave. The team has been linked to Jason Hammel, via Morosi, Johan Santana, via Biertempfel, and has been associated as a fit for Edinson Volquez, as per ESPN's Jayson Stark.
With the success of Francisco Liriano in 2013, the interesting notion of bringing in another cost-effective project has been popular. PNC Park fits well for pitchers, proven perfectly by Liriano's 8-1 record and 1.47 ERA at home.
Whatever happens or doesn't happen over the next few days, the fact remains that the Pirates do have options to fill their remaining weak areas going forward. The need to fill those slots isn't dire, but it is an opportunity to put the team in a position to better compete for the NL Central title.