Live from Winter Meetings Day 3: 5:26 p.m. update – Volquez signs on busy day for Pirates


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Recapping yesterday, I thought one of the more interesting things Neal Huntington said was the club was extremely hesitant to commit 18 percent of payroll to one player.


Eighteen percent of $80 million is $14.4 million, or roughly the qualifying offer. So perhaps that gives us a better idea of what the 2014 payroll will be and it provides insight to the Pirates’ operating philosophy: they would rather spread risk than place all their limited dollars in one basket.


10:31 A.M. UPDATE: 

*The Artist Formerly Known as Fausto Carmona (aka Robert Hernandez) is close to signing, according to his camp. There are five teams with serious interest in Hernandez and it’s reasonable to wonder if the Pirate are one of those clubs. I doubt his signing would preclude the return of AJ Burnett.

 *The Pirates are also in on Jason Hammel, according to FOXSports.

*I saw Jayson Stark floated the idea that Edinson Volquez could be the next Liriano-like reclamation project. If the Ray Searage can turn around Liriano and Volquez in back-to-back years, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Volquez has well above average velo and wipeout changeup. He might be worth a flier. However, the idea that the Pirates are going to unearth a Liriano each offseason is wildly optimistic. You typically get what you pay for and Volquez hasn’t had a good season since 2008 and his command and efficiency need complete overhauls.

– TS


11:05  a.m. UPDATE 

*The Justin Wilson watch continues:

I generally like the idea of trading relief pitchers, particularly over-valued closers. But Wilson is a rare lefty arm who could perhaps move to a rotation eventually. It would have to be a nice return, I would think.

– TS


11:17 a.m. UPDATE

RHP Kyle Haynes is the PTBNL later sent to the Yankees to complete the Chris Stewart trade. Haynes, the Pirates’ 20th round pick in the 2012 draft, had a 9.2 k/9 rate as a reliever in Low-A West Virginia last season.


UPDATE 11:51 a.m.
The Nationals are seeking bullpen help, a lefty in particular, and one of the names on their shopping list is Justin Wilson. My first instinct was the Pirates could try to get shortstop/second baseman Danny Espinosa in return. But I’ve been told the Nats are very hesitant to move Espinosa, who they see a great bounceback candidate with lots of upside.
So, I got to wondering who else might fit on the other end of a Wilson swap. One guy who could make sense is Tyler Moore, a 26-year-old first baseman/left fielder. Moore already is blocked by Adam LaRoche, but would be stuck in an even tougher logjam if Ryan Zimmerman gets some time at first base, which manager Matt Williams has hinted about.
Moore was a 16th-round pick in 2008 and won’t be arbitration eligible until after the 2015 season. A righty batter, Moore has played in 138 games in the majors over the past two seasons and has a combined slash line of .241/.293/.427. He’s rated at best an average defender.
This is all just speculation on my part — there’s rarely a lot of chatter in the hotel lobby about backup infielders with less than a full year’s service time. But it’s something maybe to tuck away in the back of your mind for later reference.

– RB


The Pirates have requested the medical records of two-time American League Cy Young winner Johan Santana and plan to meet with Santana’s camp Wednesday, according to Chris Leible of the Legacy Agency, which represents the veteran left-handed pitcher.

Santana is throwing from 180 feet, according to Leible, and continues to progress from shoulder surgery which cost him the entire 2013 season.

Santana is close friends with Pirates’ pitcher Francisco Liriano, another left-handed pitcher who rebuilt his value in Pittsburgh last season. PNC Park is a favorable park to pitch in for left-handed pitchers.

More than eight clubs have expressed interest in Santana, according to Leible. Santana is not likely to become serious about talking contract until he begins throwing off a mound.

Santana won the AL Cy Young in 2004 and 2006 with the Minnesota Twins where he was teammates with Liriano.

— TS



The silence has been broken ….


As first reported by Jeff Passan, the Pirates have signed Charlie Morton to a three-year contract extension that includes a club option.


The deal is worth $21 million over the first three years, buying out Morton’s last year of arbitration. It could be worth up to $30 million over four years.


Details from Passan: Morton, who would have been a free agent following the 2014 season, will receive $4 million this season, $8 million in 2015 and $8 million in 2016. The contract includes a club option for the 2017 season worth $9.5 million with $500,000 in potential incentives and a $1 million buyout. Should Morton be traded, the club option turns into a mutual option. If triggered and Morton declined his end, he would forfeit the buyout. 


It’s a deal that makes sense for both sides as Morton has an injury history and the Pirates get cost certainty on starting pitching….but it could be a great deal for Pirates that represents tremendous surplus value.


Morton led baseball in groundball rate last season at 62.9 percent as his sinker turned into one of the best pitches in baseball.


The AAV of $7 million is excellent considering the market price for starting pitching this offseason.

3:22 P.M. UPDATE

The Mariners are going all-in on rebound first basemen signing Corey Hart today and trading for Logan Morrison.  The Mariners traded Carter Capps for Morrison.


Couple things …


*Does this make Justin Smoak available? Another buy-low 1B option who was 14th in walk rate in baseball. I still believe, to a degree, in Smoak’s bat if he can get out of Safeco.


*Where is the market for Kendrys Morales? That’s why I asked Huntington if he would be willing to give up a pick in signing a QO’d first baseman. I think Morales’ market and value is plummeting. This year’s Michael Bourne.

Would you rather have Loney or Morales? I’m  not sure their AAV will be all that different.


5:26 p.m. UPDATE

We can confirm the Pirates have signed Edinson Volquez. Quite a day for the Pirates, who add an interesting buy-low option at one-year, $5 million per Ken Rosenthal.

Like Liriano, Volquez burst on the scene early in his career back in 2008 but has since been plagued by control issues.

Like Liriano, Volquez has struggled with fastball command. But like Liriano he also offers a tantalizing combination of mid-90s fastball velocity and a true swing-and-miss pitch, his changeup.

If Ray Searage can fix Liriano and Volquez in back-to-back years build him a statue.

– TS