Into the ‘pen


NASHVILLE — Kip Wells is a free agent.


Wells essentially stole $4 million from St. Louis last season, when he went 7-17 with a 5.70 ERA. He hasn’t reached double digits in wins since 2003, when he went 10-9 with a 3.28 ERA in 31 starts for the Pirates.

According to an report, Wells’ agents are shopping the right-hander as a set-up man, figuring no one will take a chance on him as a starter. It should end up being a wise strategy, assuming Wells still has some life in his arm. It’s a safer bet to count on Wells for one or two innings a night out of the ‘pen, rather than hoping he can battle through five or six as a starter.

The Pirates would be foolish to think of bringing back Wells as a starter. And at the moment, they have zero interest in signing him. But, if the dynamics of the team are altered in the coming weeks by a trade involving a reliever, they might want to at least kick his tires as a bullpen candidate.

GM Neal Huntington said most of the trade inquiries he’s getting involve the Pirates relievers — particularly set-up guys Damaso Marte and Salomon Torres. And while the Pirates have quality arms in the bullpen, they don’t have a lot of depth.