Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 11/2/13
We’re now officially in to the MLB offseason, and teams are already off and running in their attempts to shape up next year’s rosters. There were a few minor, unsurprising Pirates news bits at the end of the week: Wandy Rodriguez exercised his player option for 2014. That was a no-brainer for him after missing more than half of the year with an injury, and he’ll make a healthy $13M. Houston will pay $5.5M of that as part of the agreement from last year’s trade, so IF Wandy is healthy, this isn’t a bad price for the Pirates at all. His health, though, is obviously a major question after his rehab attempts kept getting delayed seemingly all summer.  Neal Huntington told reporters that he expects Wandy to be ready for 2014 and has no medical procedures planned in the offseason. Justin Morneau is one of the 2013 Pirates headed in to free agency, and he told the Trib he won’t be getting an offer from the Bucs during their exclusive negotiating period (which ends on Monday). This makes sense – Morneau is probably still an option for the Pirates at first, but not a great one, so they should look elsewhere before looking to re-sign him (and if they do re-sign him, it should be as a platoon player). The more interesting free agent, of course, is A.J. Burnett. MLB.com’s Tom Singer has some news/rumors (not sure which) regarding his situation, saying the Pirates plan to extend a $14.1M one year qualifying offer. That’s reasonable, as it would be fair value and would also give the Bucs a draft pick if AJ goes back on his word and signs elsewhere. Singer also noted that the Pirates would look to go to 2 years and about $25M if Burnett decides to return. This would also be reasonable value, but I doubt AJ will be inking a 2-year deal if he’s really thinking hard about retiring. I don’t understand why some folks would be so hesitant to pay Burnett this money – it would actually be a bargain, probably – and he clearly has plenty left in the tank. His bad playoff start and a few other blowups overshadowed what was really an excellent season. Singer has some other interesting tidbits as well. He says the Pirates will go “all-out” to re-sign Marlon Byrd. The Gregory Polanco hype is legit (and he is killing it in Winter Ball), but Byrd could be an ideal placeholder until he arrives (hopefully mid-season or in ’15). The Pirates shouldn’t look go beyond one year with Byrd or any other RF option, but as long as the money isn’t too significant, Byrd could be a good trade chip once Polanco’s ready…so that second year may not be a complete turn-off. It will be interesting to see how Byrd’s negotiations turn out…he was a tremendous addition and the lineup could suffer next year without him, but there are plenty of warning signs (PED suspension last year, a career season out of nowhere, and his 36 year old age) that might prevent a big pay day. Going back to first base, free agent Kendrys Morales apparently “tops Huntington’s wish list.” Morales is a legit first-base bat and would be a welcome addition to the offense, but he’s been in the AL for his whole career and has only played 59 games at first since 2010. With the Pirates’ focus on defense, I’m not so sure about that.
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