Winter Meetings: Pirates set to sign Crosby
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Pirates are expected to make their first noteworthy move of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings today, agreeing to a one-year, roughly $1.5 million contract with free agent Bobby Crosby to become their shortstop.
Backup shortstop, that is.
Coming off a .223 season.
If that sounds rather incidental, it just might play out that way if Crosby continues to hit the way he did in his final four seasons in Oakland: .231 over 1,501 at-bats and never higher than .238.
But, if he somehow can reclaim the form of 2004, when he was the American League Rookie of the Year with 22 home runs and 64 RBIs and ... oh, wait. There was a .239 average that year, too. And his only year above that .239 was a .276 spike in 2005.
"The kid can hit, really, if he's healthy," one American League scout said yesterday. "But he hurt his back after that first year and lost his power and some of his range in the field. If he can somehow get healthy, he could help someone. He's a big guy, and he can still swing."
Crosby, who will turn 30 next month, stands 6 feet 3, but the home runs virtually vanished after that rookie season. After that, his totals were nine, nine, eight, seven and six.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington declined to discuss Crosby yesterday, but he did describe, in general, what the team is seeking at shortstop as it relates to current starter Ronny Cedeno: "Depth. It gives us an option if Ronny is injured or doesn't play well. It gives us an opportunity to have an upgrade to the role over what we have right now."
Next on the organizational depth chart at shortstop are minor leaguers Brian Bixler and Argenis Diaz.
The Pirates and Toronto are discussing a trade involving catcher Ryan Doumit, according to an industry source, but the Blue Jays are not the only team in the mix. More tentative word was floating that the Seattle Mariners -- who were known previously -- and San Francisco Giants are involved, too.
Another source suggested that Toronto's hard-throwing reliever, Jeremy Accardo, could be part of these talks. The source said the Blue Jays might be looking to move Accardo because he could be non-tendered Friday and, in that case, would be a free agent.
If there was any trade talk involving starters Zach Duke and Paul Maholm, it was impossible to detect in the lobby of the meetings' Marriott hotel, and there might be a reason: Although the Pirates have made known they will listen to offers for both, they apparently would prefer to let the market develop.
Asked if either pitcher is an issue at the meetings, Huntington replied, "No. If we were smart, we'd probably wait and let most of the options go off the board, then maybe get somebody who's willing to be that much more aggressive. ... As you see some starting pitchers go off the market, I think you'll see that the value goes higher as more go off."
• The Pirates have scouted and talked to Cuban pitching prospect Aroldis Chapman, but they are not a serious player for his services.
Chapman, a 21-year-old left-hander, has been reported to be seeking a major league contract in the range of four years and $20 million. And, given that the teams already in touch with him include the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, numbers in that range cannot be ruled out.
• The Pirates have had further contact with Justin Duchscherer, the free-agent right-handed starter coming off a lost 2009 after an outstanding 2008 with Oakland.
The likely path for Duchscherer, according to a source, is that teams will check him out -- he had elbow and hip injuries, as well as a diagnosis of clinical depression -- and that his price will be set closer to spring training.
Two weeks ago, the Pirates made it sound highly likely they would take a Rule 5 pick tomorrow. Not so much anymore.
"There are some guys we're talking about, a handful we're taking seriously," Huntington said. "I don't know if we feel about a guy as strongly as we did the last two years."
The Pirates took Evan Meek two years ago, Donnie Veal last year.
First Published December 9, 2009 12:00 am