PITTSBURGH — So where do the Pirates go from here?
After a slow start to the offseason, general manager Neal Huntington swiftly checked off the top two items on Pittsburgh’s to-do list. In came Daniel Hudson, a veteran right-handed setup man, then Ivan Nova re-signed to improve the Bucs’ rotation after a remarkable two-month turnaround this past season.
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What comes next? Even with two needs addressed and their projected 2017 payroll around $100 million, the Pirates still could go a number of different directions before they report to Pirate City for Spring Training next month. Here are a few possibilities to consider:
Big splash Hudson and Nova filled needs, but the Pirates could aim higher in their effort to return to the postseason in 2017. The Bucs have “worked hard” to acquire White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, as first reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney. Pittsburgh has the high-end talent and organizational depth to make such a move, and it could part with someone like top prospect Tyler Glasnow for a contractually controllable, top-of-the-rotation starter like Quintana.
“We like the group as is,” Huntington said of Pittsburgh’s rotation. “But if there’s a way to improve it, we’ll certainly be open to that as well if it makes sense in the big picture as well as the short term.”
The rebuilding White Sox have all the leverage given Quintana’s contract status, and he would come at a high price. Would Pittsburgh be willing to part with the necessary prospects? Such a move would be unprecedented for Huntington, but so would a rotation of Gerrit Cole, Quintana, Jameson Taillon, Nova and Chad Kuhl.
Round out the rotation If they can’t land Quintana, the Pirates could set their sights slightly lower and still …