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The devil’s in the details

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LAS VEGAS — GM Neal Huntington aptly described his offseason duties as “putting together a jigsaw puzzle”: Trade away a player for some prospects, add a free agent here or there, promote a minor leaguer … and hope that it all fits together nicely by Opening Day.

It’s what makes the winter meetings so maddening and also so enjoyable. Every tidbit of information, every whispered rumor can be viewed a dozen ways in the prism of how it might impact the overall roster.

Shortstop Jack Wilson is available. Minnesota is interested. Whom might the Pirates get? Maybe outfielder Delmon Young. But wouldn’t that flood the Pirates’ outfield? Not if, say, Nate McLouth is dealt. But where? Atlanta is interested. What could it offer? Minor league pitching, such as studs Thomas Hanson or Cole Rohrbough. You can never have enough pitching, huh? That’s true, and it would free up, say, Ian Snell in case the Nationals are still interested …

Of course, it’s never that simple or linear in real life. Now, imagine being Huntington, trying to stay focused on the present and future path of the franchise while assessing a dozen offers flying at you from all angles. And don’t forget about team chemistry. And veteran leadership. And lefty-righty balance in the lineup, rotation and bullpen. And your payroll target. And hang-ups with picky agents.

Sometimes, it’s a wonder any deal ever gets done.

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