De la Rosa is Bucs’ top target


I’ve heard from a couple sources, inside and outside of the team, that left-hander Jorge de la Rosa is atop the Pirates’ free-agent shopping list this winter.

De la Rosa, who’ll turn 30 in April, would likely be the No. 1 pitcher in the Pirates’ rotation next season. The Pirates are seeking all sorts of pitching help, but would love to retool their rotation with more-reliable arms.

He won’t come cheaply — the Pirates would have to offer a multi-year deal (de la Rosa is seeking at least a four-year contract) and will command at least $11 million a year. Also, since he’s a Type A free agent, the Pirates would give up a second-round pick in the 2011 draft.

This past season, de la Rosa went 8-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 20 starts for Colorado. He’s a power pitcher — he averaged 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings this year — something the Pirates have lacked for years.

Over three seasons with the Rockies, de la Rosa had a respectable 4.49 ERA at hitter-friendly Coors Field. However, he’s never had an ERA below 4.20 and has never pitched more than 185 innings in a season.

The Rockies, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers also are interested in him.