Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 2/7/12

Well, the Pirates have apparently been making a last-ditch effort to make a big splash and improve their pitching this season, but it didn’t work. They went after free agents Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt, but Jackson signed with the Nationals instead and Oswalt “rebuffed” their offers to join a bidding war.

Both would have been welcome additions – they’re relatively big names that would boost payroll, make the fans happy, and improve the Bucs’ awful rotation depth. The Pirates were willing to pay for Jackson – they made a “substantial” 3-year offer in the range of $10 million/year, and he ended up taking a 1-year deal for $11 million with the upstart Nationals. We don’t know what they would have offered Oswalt because they were “rebuffed” before even joining the bidding, but other teams’ interest in Oswalt has dwindled lately and he shut the Pirates off anyway.

The point is, it takes two to tango and neither pitcher wanted to come to Pittsburgh, which is of course understandable. We’ve seen this numerous times, and willingness to pay is far from the only factor. Look at Derrek Lee, who hasn’t gone anywhere yet and is considering retirement despite a good offer from the Pirates. Jorge De La Rosa from last year comes to mind as well. Even if the Pirates start to compete, it’s going to take a while to change this perception. Back in July when the Pirates (in first place at the time) wanted Carlos Beltran, he wouldn’t lift his no-trade clause if Pittsburgh was the destination.

It’s a tough situation. The Pirates could probably land somebody if they overpaid dramatically (a recent example would be the Nationals and Jayson Werth), but that isn’t a very good idea. They’re going to have to improve on the field from within (or with the marginal free agents we’re used to seeing) and commit financial resources elsewhere to do so. With the new draft restrictions and no superstar talent coming out of Latin America (besides Cespedes, who they won’t be in the running for), I’m starting to think these developments are going to add pressure on management to use those resources to extend Andrew McCutchen and/or Neil Walker.

As I’ve said, there’s no reason to rush these extensions and it certainly depends on what the players (and their agents) are looking for as well, but if the Pirates were actually prepared to spend on Jackson or Oswalt…there’s virtually nobody left on the free agent market now, and an internal move like a big extension would instill a lot of faith among fans and in other players. Until the Pirates actually do something significant like that, we’ll continue to see big names turn them down regardless of what they’re offering.

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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