The Pirates are eyeing two power-hitting types, outfielder Matt Joyce and first baseman Jason Larish, in the Detroit system as part of a potential trade with the Tigers for shortstop Jack Wilson.
Joyce, 23, broke into the majors last season and batted .252 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs in 92 games. With Class AAA Toledo, he batted .270 with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs.
Larish, 26, batted .250 with 21 home runs and 60 RBIs for Toledo.
The Pirates would not get both players. A pitching prospect also could be in the mix.
It remains to be seen how much Detroit is willing to give up, even if the Pirates pick up some of Wilson's remaining $7.85 million in guaranteed money or if Wilson would restructure his contract, as he has made known he would do with a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers. His family lives in southern California, but he has no issue with going to Detroit.
The Tigers have scheduled a meeting with free-agent shortstop Adam Everett at the Winter Meetings that begin Monday in Las Vegas, perhaps a sign that they are discouraged by talks regarding Wilson.
The Pirates yesterday set the stage for possible moves at the Winter Meetings by clearing two spots on what had been a full 40-man roster with the outright assignments of starter Jason Davis and catcher Raul Chavez to Class AAA Indianapolis.
Each player has the right to refuse the assignment and declare himself a minor league free agent, though general manager Neal Huntington has expressed a wish to have each return.
Davis, 28, made 14 appearances in Pittsburgh, including four starts, and went 2-4 with a 5.29 ERA. He would have been eligible for salary arbitration had he been tendered a major league contract offer.
Chavez, 35, took Ronny Paulino's job as Ryan Doumit's backup by June and batted .259 with 10 RBIs in 42 games. He, too, would have been eligible for arbitration.
The open spots also could come in handy for the Rule 5 draft Thursday. The Pirates are expected to take at least one player.
NOTES -- The Pirates gave out their first non-roster spring invitation of the offseason, signing left-handed reliever Daniel Haigwood to a minor league contract. Haigwood, 25, had a 3.36 ERA, 70 strikeouts and 42 walks in 38 appearances for Class AA Portland in the Boston Red Sox system. He never has pitched above that level. ... Center fielder Maiko Loyola, 23, was signed to play for Indianapolis. He batted .280 with five home runs and 44 RBIs for Class A Columbus. ... Three international amateurs -- shortstops Ashley Ponce and Jorge Bishop, and left-handed pitcher Julio Denis -- were signed for the Venezuelan Summer League.
Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at email@example.com .