Pirates should acquire a player with a burdensome contract

We are now in the second day of the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, and the majority of Pirates-related news has been predictable. Managemetn is not actively shopping players such as Matt Capps, Ryan Doumit, Paul Maholm or Zach Duke, but they are willing to listen to any offers. Nothing groundbreaking there. However, one rumor that caught my eye was the Pirates supposed interest in trading for Juan Pierre.

At first glance, the thought seems so outlandish that you immediately brush it aside as nonsense. But it is not as off the wall as it seems. The Pirates are in a unique situation this offseason. They have plenty of payroll available, probably somewhere in the range of $15 million. There are several holes on the roster. And yet, there are few available free agents that would fit the team’s needs right now. So how should the team best utilize that available payroll? Use it as an asset in acquiring more young talent.

Juan Pierre is due $18.5 million over the next two seasons, despite being a bench player at best. The Dodgers are looking to add starting pitching. If the Pirates offer them Duke, we may be able to get a couple of decent prospects in return. If we dangle Duke, and offer to take Pierre’s contract off their hands, maybe we increase the return to make the deal worthwhile.

I’m not necessarily saying that Pierre is the guy to target. But there are plenty of poor contracts around the league, plus economical conditions that may make them more burdensome. Jeff Suppan is due $12.5 million in 2010, plus $12.75 million or a $2 million buyout in 2011. Think the Brewers would love to dump that contract on someone? Tim at BUCCO Fans had a similar idea involving Pat Burrell last month. The Reds have several large contracts finishing up over the next couple years. Gary Matthews Jr. is due $23 million through 2011. I don’t know if any of these teams would be interested, but it is definitely something the Pirates should consider.

There are two main conditions that the Pirates will have to keep in mind. Any player acquired should be off the books by 2012. The team may be ready to contend by that season, and there will be no place for an albatross contract by then. Also, the new player cannot take playing time from someone younger and more deserving. If they pick up Pierre, he should be on the bench. If warranted, the team should even be willing to release the player and eat his contract. This approach should only be used with a focus on adding young talent.

Just something to consider during the offseason.

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