Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Winter Meetings Pirates Shop for Good Fits Starting Pitchers Top List; Hanrahan Could Be Trade Bait

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Winter Meetings Pirates Shop for Good Fits Starting Pitchers Top List; Hanrahan Could Be Trade Bait

Article excerpt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --

The Pirates preempted the bevy of free-agent signings sure to occur this week at Major League Baseball's winter meetings by signing free-agent catcher Russell Martin.

That signing, general manager Neal Huntington said, will not affect the way the Pirates approach the meetings, which represent an opportunity for representatives of all 30 clubs to discuss trades and for player agents to meet with front-office personnel.

The Pirates likely will try to make progress toward finding another starting pitcher at the gathering, being held over the next four days at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center,

"Sometimes, there's an artificial sense of urgency that comes with the winter meetings," Huntington said. "When a deal is ready to be made, you make it."

The Pirates did not tender a contract to Jeff Karstens, who was eligible for salary arbitration, on Friday, and Charlie Morton will not return until at least June after having Tommy John elbow surgery. That leaves A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald in the starting rotation.

The Pirates have said Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke will compete for a rotation spot at spring training.

The Pirates hold a valuable chip that may help them acquire a starter in a trade. Joel Hanrahan, who is eligible for arbitration for the final time, will receive a raise from his $4.1 million salary in 2012 to somewhere in the $6 million or $7 million range.

Hanrahan will become a free agent after the 2013 season. The new collective bargaining agreement stipulates that for teams to receive draft pick compensation for losing a free agent, they must extend a qualifying offer of roughly $13 million, a price the Pirates probably won't pay for a closer.

The CBA also mandates that a player needs to stay with one club all season for that club to receive draft pick compensation, meaning if the Pirates trade Hanrahan at mid-season, the team that acquires him can't receive a compensatory draft pick if Hanrahan departs via free agency after the 2013 season. …

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