Pirates second trade pick could become bargaining chip

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The Pirates feel like they can be selective about who they attempt to acquire in advance of the trade deadline, general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday.

"We don't have to acquire a starting pitcher," Huntington said. "We don't have to acquire a bat. We can go pick what we want to get if it's a player or two, or if the acquisition cost is just exorbitantly high we stay with what we have."

Huntington said teams are still attempting to add players, but some are starting to prepare to become sellers as the July 31 deadline approaches.

The Pirates, who are 14 games over .500 after Sunday's 3-0 win against the Miami Marlins, want to add to their roster before the trade deadline. The Pirates have not specified positions of need and instead are searching for anyone they can acquire for who can add improvement at a reasonable cost.

They have an extra piece to bargain with this season after winning the second pick in the competitive balance lottery, giving them a pick after the conclusion of the first round. The new collective bargaining agreement introduced that lottery this year, and it awards draft picks to low-revenue and small-market teams. These are the only draft picks which can be traded.

"We've got a certain value on it, and if we feel like we get that value, it's no different than a prospect in our system who we've placed a value on," said Huntington, who noted that the Pirates are not actively looking to trade the pick. "If we feel like we get an appropriate value package in return, then we make a move."

If the Pirates kept the pick, they would have three of the top 40 or so picks in the 2013 draft because of the compensation pick they received when they did not sign Mark Appel.

Huntington said the organization had some flexibility to increase their payroll by acquiring a player.

Three times a charm

The Pirates restructured their rotation at the All-Star break, in part to allow Erik Bedard some extra time between outings. Manager Clint Hurdle said that time is paying off.

"We identified some things, he worked on them in three side sessions and he was able to recreate some of the angles and sequences," Hurdle said.

Bedard, who starts today against the Chicago Cubs, won his most recent start against the Colorado Rockies on the road, allowing two runs, one earned, in 62/3 innings. The Pirates had lost in his five previous starts, and he had a 6.37 ERA in his past eight outings.

"Every once in a while it can be very helpful," Hurdle said. "It's a long season. Whether it's arm weariness, whether it's mental fatigue, sometimes, whatever the erosion that the season can bring, there are great opportunities for guys to kind of find that reboot button."

Bedard may find respite at PNC Park: In his eight home starts, he has a 2.95 ERA, compared to a 5.90 ERA on the road.

Hurdle and Huntington discussed the possibility of skipping a starter and employing a spot start as the schedule becomes dense in August. Huntington said Brad Lincoln would join Class AAA Indianapolis starters Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke and Justin Wilson as candidates to make a spot start.

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Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.


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