NASHVILLE — This afternoon, I heard in the lobby that the Pirates continued to explore a possible trade that would send first baseman Garrett Jones to the Mariners, but apparently made little progress. The latest report I’ve heard is that the Pirates were rebuffed after offering to send Jones to Seattle for right-hander Taijaun Walker, the Mariners’ top pitching prospect. Walker, 20, was a supplemental first-round pick in 2010 who wowed Mariners management that year in the fall league. With a plus fastball and a plus curveball, he has top-of-the-rotation potential. This past season, he went 7-10 with a 4.69 ERA and 1.374 WHIP at Double-A Jackson. Baseball America rates him the M’s second-best prospect.
Yesterday, Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reported by the Pirates earlier had discussed a deal that would send Jones and closer Joel Hanrahan to Seattle for a package of first baseman Justin Smoak, catcher John Jaso and pitcher Hector Noesi. The proposal of Jones for Walker shows the Pirates are willing to deal Hanrahan and Jones separately and could indicate that the Mariners have cooled on Hanrahan.
Update 8 pm CT: GM Neal Huntington vehemently denied the Jones-Walker trade offer transpired. I’ll take him at his word, as he’s never given me a reason to do otherwise.
»»» There hasn’t been much buzz today about any imminent Pirates moves, although there are plenty of indications they are sorting through the group of non-tendered free-agent pitchers. Those players have been getting attention from a lot of clubs and everyone might be waiting for one or more of the marquee pitchers to sign and help set the salary bar for the mid-level guys. In other words, it could be mid-January before the Pirates find their No. 4 starter. Or, it could happen in 10 minutes.