Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting (via MLB Trade Rumors) that the Pirates are very interested in signing Rocco Baldelli.
The Pirates have had several conversations with Baldelli’s representatives, according to one high-ranking team executive, and their pursuit is serious. General manager Neal Huntington has acknowledged wanting a right-handed power bat for the outfield — Nate McLouth, Brandon Moss and Nyjer Morgan all are left-handed — and Baldelli could fit that, the Pirates believe, even if he continues to require regular rest.
Despite the recent upgrade in Baldelli’s medical prognosis, there are still questions about how much of a recovery can be expected and how quickly he can recover.
And herein lies Rocco’s Dilemma…Rocco almost certainly would prefer to play in the American League, but a National League club is more likely to pursue him.
In the AL, Rocco could DH on a regular basis. But unless a team has a need for a full-time DH, Rocco could handcuff a team’s roster. With only four bench spots, an AL club may not be able to risk having a player on the bench that can’t play the field regularly should an injury to a position player occur.
On the other hand, a young NL ball club like the Pirates or Reds, that doesn’t expect to compete for a couple of years, can more easily hide Rocco with the extra bench spot.
In the worst-case scenario, a NL club could use Rocco as part of a platoon, giving him 2 starts a week in the outfield against lefties, and utilizing him as a pinch-hitter in the remaining games. The upside for the team is that Rocco could become healthy enough to once again become an everyday outfielder in 2010 or 2011 when those clubs are ready to compete. But for Rocco, that would mean 50 starts in 2008 with a mediocre club instead of 100 with an AL contender.
In the end, Rocco may have to decide between the security of a long-term deal from the Pirates or Reds, or an incentive-laden contract with the Red Sox or Rays.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- The Rays are one of the five choices for Joe Nelson a free agent relief pitcher that was non-tendered by the Marlins. Originally a fourth round selection in 1996, Nelson has played in six organizations, including a short stint in the Rays’ system, at Durham, in 2005. Last season, Nelson posted a 2.00 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 22 walks in 54 innings…In the same piece Marc Topkin is reporting that Dave Wills and Andy Freed signed new contracts to return to the Rays’ radio booth in 2009. Wills received the highest approval in our Media Approval Ratings. [The Heater]
- Dayn Perry is the latest to say the Yankees still haven’t done enough to overtake the Rays and Red Sox. [Fox Sports]
- Baseball Analysts break down the AL East. [The Baseball Analysts]
- Rays Prospects compares the organizations of the Rays and the Astros. [Rays Prospects]
- David Chalk of Bugs and Cranks is nearing the end of their all-time Devil Rays Advent calendar. Today is #23. [Bugs and Cranks]
- Rays Prospects takes a look at the 2008 performances of the Vero Beach hitters. [Rays Prospects]