Winter Meetings: Pirates add Diaz, push Doumit?
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.-- The Pirates added a possible everyday right fielder by agreeing to terms with free agent Matt Diaz on a two-year, $4.25 million contract, and that might be just the move that pushes Ryan Doumit out the door.
One National League executive said Wednesday that the Pirates are "really pushing hard" on a Doumit trade, adding that the Pirates are open to a wide array of scenarios for the trade, including one in which they take on some of Doumit's $5.1 million salary for 2011 if it results in a better return.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, speaking on the third day of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings at Walt Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resort, gave another as-we-sit-right-now answer when asked if a new outfielder would affect Doumit.
"It was going to be a platoon situation in right field had we tendered Lastings Milledge," Huntington said. "If we acquire a right-handed hitting outfielder that we think is an upgrade for the organization, it remains similar. The outfielder may have an opportunity for more at-bats if he performs well, but it shouldn't have a direct impact. We were thinking of Ryan as a left-handed hitting outfielder who also could get at-bats behind home plate."
Asked, in general, if moves here might lead to other moves: "Yeah, I think we're looking through creative alternatives. Some people are intrigued by what we're doing, and it may be opening some more doors. Based on what we've been able to do, they've been trying to see if there might be a trade fit with some of the other alternatives. Yeah, I guess one thing could lead to the other."
Word in the hotel lobby late Wednesday was that starter Paul Maholm was being offered to other teams. No commodity is more valuable in the current market.
Diaz, 32, batted .250 with a .302 on-base percentage, 7 home runs and 31 RBIs in 84 games for Atlanta this past season, having lost a month to a thumb injury. His 2009 was far better, with a .313 average, .390 on-base percentage, 13 home runs and 58 RBIs.
He is a career .301 hitter, including .335 vs. left-handers. The latter could be part of the Pirates' plan to create platoon possibilities for right field and/or first base, also involving left-handed Garrett Jones and John Bowker, and right-handed Steve Pearce.
The team could not comment on Diaz because his signing is pending a physical.
Defensively, Diaz played mostly in left field for the Braves, but he would be a right fielder at PNC Park.
Several other teams approached Diaz -- the Los Angeles Dodgers apparently were set to offer more money -- but Diaz chose the Pirates largely because he saw a chance to play every day.
• The Pirates continued trade talks for a shortstop -- perhaps heating up -- with the Minnesota Twins regarding J.J. Hardy, but their other target, the Tampa Bay Rays' Jason Bartlett, went to the San Diego Padres.
• The Pirates also continued to discuss a trade with Atlanta for veteran starter Kenshin Kawakami. The Braves also were talking to the Baltimore Orioles in an apparent effort to drive up the amount of Kawakami's salary the trading partner would cover. Kawakami is due $6.67 million, and the Braves are thought to be willing to pick up about $5 million of that.
• The Pirates have expressed interest in free-agent super-utilityman Alfredo Amezaga, who played just about every position -- even shortstop and center field -- while with the Florida Marlins. Amezaga, 33, has missed most of the past two seasons to a knee injury.
• The Pirates are among the teams scouting Bartolo Colon, 37, in the Dominican Republic, where he is 40 pounds lighter, throwing 90-93 mph and dominating opponents in winter ball.
Highlights from new manager Clint Hurdle's media session Wednesday:
• He will be very involved in the hitting, along with rookie hitting coach Gregg Ritchie: "I have so much confidence in Gregg. I have a passion for hitting. I've been a hitting coach for seven years. I have some ideas. He needs to take ownership of this opportunity to be the best hitting coach he can be."
• On his approach to players: "I try to capture the heart. You capture the heart, the skill set's going to follow."
• Asked how he can relate to Pittsburgh's fans: "I think getting out publicly, which I've already done a little bit, listening to the voices of the city. There's raw emotion. I've already heard it. ... At the end of the day, what they care about is the Pittsburgh Pirates winning games. There's still a large volume and a truly passionate group of baseball fans there. You look at the other two buildings, what the Penguins and Steelers have in place ... I'm just reminded that there is not a greater sports opportunity available to anybody in re-bonding a city with a baseball team. That, to me, is electric."
The Pirates pick first overall in the Rule 5 draft at 9 a.m. today, though it is far from certain they will take a player they keep. Huntington, who has downplayed the quality of this class, has expressed an openness to trade whichever player they claim, as the Washington Nationals did last year.
A couple names to watch:
• Aneury Rodriguez, 22-year-old Class AAA starter in the ultra-deep Tampa Bay system, had a 3.80 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 27 appearances, including 17 starts.
• Elvin Ramirez, 23-year-old Class AA reliever in the New York Mets' system, had a 4.56 ERA in 52 appearances, and opponents batted .212. He throws 97 mph.
"We're kicking around some names," Huntington said, adding that the Pirates are considering pitchers and position players. "Some teams have called asking if we'd trade the pick. There are guys out there that we're interested in. It's not something that we're overly excited about, but there are players out there who can help us and have a legitimate chance to make the team."
First Published December 9, 2010 12:07 am