Olsen agrees to terms; Accardo pursued; Kawakami deal a possibility
December 7, 2010 10:00 AM
Ryan Doumit played a career-high 124 games last season and batted .251 with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs.
By Dejan Kovacevic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Pirates are eager to trade catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit, are close to signing free-agent pitcher Scott Olsen, are pursuing free-agent pitcher Jeremy Accardo, could trade for veteran Atlanta starter Kenshin Kawakami and continue to have many other discussions.
That was the summary of the opening day of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings at Walt Disney's Swan and Dolphin hotels: Some movement, still no official moves.
"It was like a lot of first days at these events: A lot of conversations," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Some lead to dead ends. Some lead to fruition."
Doumit, 29, is coming off a season in which he played a career-high 124 games, including 91 starts at catcher, 17 in right field and three at first base, and batted .251 with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs. He lost his everyday catching duty when Chris Snyder was acquired at the trading deadline.
With Doumit due $5.1 million in 2011 and Snyder due $6.25 million, that would commit more than $11 million behind the plate -- roughly 20 percent of the projected payroll -- should Doumit keep sharing that position.
Two industry sources confirmed that the Pirates have tried to trade Doumit for several weeks and that they are confident enough in a solid return that they are seeking a straight-up, no-cash-involved trade.
If a trade does not happen, Huntington affirmed for the first time, Doumit will be the Pirates' regular right fielder in 2011, as well as continuing occasional catching duties.
"As we sit right now, Ryan will be our right fielder, with some time behind home plate to supplement Chris Snyder," Huntington said. "Sitting here right now, Ryan's going to play a lot. That's the plan."
The Pirates and Olsen, a left-handed starter who will turn 27 in January, agreed to financial parameters on a one-year, major league contract based on incentive bonuses, and the deal is expected to be done later this week. Last year with Washington, Olsen had a base salary of $1 million and could have made up to an additional $2.85 million in bonuses based on starts, and the terms with the Pirates will be similar.
Olsen has a 4.85 ERA in 127 career starts, including the past two seasons with the Nationals. He also has been involved in numerous negative off-field incidents, including a DUI charge in 2007.
The Pirates also are in talks with Accardo, a right-handed reliever who will turn 29 Wednesday, and could be close to signing him.
Accardo has not made more than 26 appearances in any of the past three seasons with Toronto, largely because of various injuries. He was limited to five games in 2010, but that was because the Blue Jays had him spend most of the summer in Class AAA, where he had a 3.48 ERA in 42 appearances and allowed opponents to bat .306.
In '07, Accardo was among the American League's best relievers, with 30 saves in 35 chances and a 2.14 ERA in 64 appearances for Toronto.
Another possible addition is Kawakami, a 35-year-old right-hander coming off a dismal season -- 1-10 with a 5.15 ERA, and opponents batted .284 -- with Atlanta. The previous year, though, he had a 3.86 ERA over 25 starts, and many close to him are adamant that this past season was the aberration.
Kawakami is due $6.67 million in '11, the final year of his contract, and the Braves are eager enough to trade him that they could be willing to cover all but $1 million-$2 million of that amount. Frank Coonelly, the Pirates' president, told the Post-Gazette Sunday that his team's preference is to make trades that involve cash over those that would forfeit prospects.
There was word in the lobby that the Pirates would be willing to part with one of their top two relievers, Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek, but only if a very significant offer is made. Which probably means young starting pitching, management's primary focus. The Pirates are not shopping Hanrahan or Meek.
"We like both guys a lot," Huntington said. "We think both are capable of closing, and we're looking for value in return."
Rule 5 trade?
Huntington said he is open to considering a trade in the Rule 5 draft Thursday, when the Pirates will have the No. 1 pick.
When asked if this is a good pool of available players, he said, "No." He added that the recent shift in the format -- which allows teams an extra year or two to evaluate players before having to protect them -- keeps talent from slipping through as much.
Interest in Duchscherer
The Pirates and free-agent pitcher Justin Duchscherer have "mutual interest," according to one source.
Duchscherer, 33, has been a very good pitcher when healthy -- 3.13 career ERA in the American League -- but has missed most of the past two seasons to injury. That includes four months this past season to hip surgery. He is expected to be fully recovered for spring training
Webb gone cold
The Pirates' pursuit of another recovering free-agent pitcher, Brandon Webb, apparently has gone cold. A source said Monday that there has been no contact between the team and Webb since Nov. 22, and Webb has since drawn interest from several other teams, notably the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals.
Webb, a Cy Young Award winner in 2006, has not pitched in nearly two years because of shoulder surgery.