Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 10/30/12
Now that the World Series is over, the MLB offseason is officially under way and the hot stove talk will be here before you know it. As Charlie points out, changes in the Pirates’ front office (or at least the GM) don’t appear likely simply because such a move already should have been made if one was going to happen. With free agents ready to sign and a number of other key decisions on the horizon, it wouldn’t make much sense to have an interim GM in charge.  So, while I have no idea what the “Bob Nutting Investigation” (if there even is such a thing) will bring, it probably won’t result in the firing of Neal Huntington. While he’ll most likely hang on to his job, Huntington still faces a lot of pressure this winter–the Bucs are coming off their second disastrous collapse in a row, a lot of folks want him out of town already, and his track record in free agency is awful. Before addressing the free agent market around the league, however, Huntington has to decide which Bucs from this past season he’ll be keeping in town. We’ll get to arbitration a little later (since the deadline for that is more than a month away), so that leaves players with 2013 contract options and those ready to hit the free agent market. Options: Pedro Alvarez – $700K – This is obviously a no brainer for the Pirates to pick up. Alvarez has a bizarre contract thanks to the craziness that took place after he was drafted, but for this year, it’s a pretty simple matter of paying him $700K. The Bucs have the same option for Pedro next year, but in all likelihood he’ll have his first arbitration year and make more than that. Rod Barajas – $3.5M (no buyout) - Also a no brainer. If the Pirates exercise this option, PNC Park should burn to the ground. We’ll see if all the “great clubhouse guy” and “he helps the pitchers SO much” talk results in the Bucs attempting to bring Rod back for a lower price…I (and everyone else outside the team, I’m sure) would be extremely upset if that happens, but sadly I can’t completely rule it out. The deadline for decisions on these options is 11:59 PM on Wednesday. Free Agents: Kevin Correia - Correia exceeded most folks’ expectations during his time as a Pirate and is probably Neal Huntington’s best offseason major league free agent signing (yikes), but he’s as good as gone. I can’t imagine that he’ll want to return after the Bucs yanked him out of the rotation several times this season, and he probably has enough value as a fifth starter for some team to throw a contract his way. While Correia did a good job of keeping the Pirates in the game more often than not, his numbers were mediocre-to-bad across the board and he isn’t a significant loss. Jason Grilli - I have no idea if the Pirates will try and bring back Grilli or not – and I have no idea what he would fetch on the open market. Grilli was lethal for the first half of the season, but tailed off in the second half and will be 36 in a few days. As with any reliever, it’s extremely difficult to forecast his future with any sort of confidence, but I would still want him in the bullpen thanks to his 13.8 strikeout-per-nine-innings rate (13.0 in the second half) last year. Even if that comes down a bit, it’s still valuable. Counting on Grilli to be a dominant setup man like he was in early 2012 is probably foolish, but considering the Bucs’ bullpen woes during The Collapse, I suspect they’ll try and bring Grilli back. He made $1 million in 2012 and will require a raise, but at 36 I don’t think he’ll be trying to break the bank. Chad Qualls - Certainly won’t be re-signed (I HOPE), at least not to a major league contract. Hisanori Takahashi - Ditto. The free agent market opens up league-wide on Saturday. Until then, the Pirates have exclusive rights to the players above. Minor League Free Agents: Daniel McCutchen was optioned off the 40-man roster on Monday, and will become a minor league free agent. Eric Fryer (recently DFA) will hit the FA market as well, and Jeff Clement has the option of doing so. There will be more from the minors, of course, but those guys are fresh of the 40-man roster. PHOTO: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
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