Originally written on Rumors and Rants  |  Last updated 7/16/12

For the second season in a row, the Pittsburgh Pirates are in buying mode in the second half of the Major League Baseball season, and they’re eyeing a few of the big fish on the market.

After Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pirates are one game back of the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central, and they’re tied with the Atlanta Braves for the top Wild Card spot in the NL.

Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com is reporting that the Pirates are currently discussing two potential trades, one with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the other with the San Diego Padres.

The players the Pirates are targeting are both corner outfielders, Carlos Quentin and Justin Upton. Obviously, the younger, more talented Upton is the team’s primary focus. Jayson Stark tweeted that the Pirates have emerged as a “serious bidder” for Upton, who, as we have pointed out before, seems to be on his way out of Arizona.

The Pirates have invested a ton of money in the draft over the past few seasons, but they have yet to really put money into the team at the big league level. That would change if they traded for Upton.

The 24-year-old outfielder signed a six-year, $51.25 million contract back in 2010. He will be owed $38.5 million over the next three years after this season, and still has about $3 million left on the docket for this campaign.

The Pirates won’t be willing to part with either of their top pitching prospects – Gerrit Cole or Jameson Taillon – to get a deal done, but outfielder Starling Marte is likely to be a part of any trade.

So far this season, Upton has been a disappointment, but a change in scenery might help wake him up. Upton is currently hitting .264 with seven home runs, 37 RBI and an OPS of .735.

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