hangoverJohn Perrotto is reporting that the Pirates top priority at this week’s winter meetings is a certain Rays minor leaguer…

Meanwhile, the Pirates’ primary trade target in Indianapolis will be Tampa Bay shortstop prospect Reid Brignac. The Pirates tried to get Brignac in a trade for Jason Bay last year and his name cameup in trade talks last month when they eventually landed second baseman Akinori Iwamura for reliever Jesse Chavez.

Perrotto adds that the Pirates are willing to part with left-handed starter Zach Duke or closer Matt Capps. Any package for Duke would certainly cost the Rays more than Brignac and according to Perrotto, the Rays don’t seem interested in Capps.

Capps posted a 5.80 ERA (4.90 FIP) with 27 saves in 57 appearances. He had 46 strikeouts to only 17 walks. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.

Duke was 11-16 with a 4.06 ERA (4.24 FIP) in 32 starts. A 2009 All-Star, Duke made $2.2 million last season and is arbitration-eligible for the second time. He will be eligible for free agency following the 2011 season.

It is no secret the Rays are in the market for bullpen help, but we also wouldn’t be surprised if the Rays added a young starting pitcher like Duke. A 2.0 and 2.5 WAR pitcher the past two seasons, Duke is still relatively cheap and would represent an improvement to the rotation. Acquiring somebody like Duke would also make a pitcher like Jeff Niemann expendable and a potential trade piece in an attempt to upgrade the bullpen and/or catcher’s position.

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12 Comments

  1. KyleS says:

    According to this (from Cot's):

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p4ew-fwu2XT05ujvNdujgQw

    .........Capps is in arb-2.

    I'm not sure 5-6 years of Brignac at a relatively low cost is worth 2 potentially pricey years of Duke or Capps. With a cursory glance at the stats, Niemann appears to be every bit the pitcher that Duke is, even if his HR rate regresses some. I guess the sticking point would revolve around Niemann's durability concerns.

    Briggy plus 'X' for McCutchen sounds good though.......I know, probably not happening.

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    • KyleS says:

      Also, Niemann was 3.2 WAR pitcher last year in only 177 IP. While he may be the next SP traded by the Rays (again, for injury concerns), it doesn't appear to make much sense to do so until Hellickson is ready to take the 5th spot.....presumably in 2011 at the earliest.

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  2. Red22 says:

    I'd make the deal be Shoppach or Navarro and Brignac for Doumit. I'd then sign a cheap veteran, like Brad Ausmus, to be the backup. Unless, of course, the Rays are happy with Riggans as the backup. When healthy, Riggans is a fine backup, but he's never healthy. I'd prefer someone like Ausmus though, becaue he's proven that he can help a pitching staff a ton. Capps isn't that good, and Duke wouldn't be worth giving up Niemann for. Niemann's proven that he can pitch in our division. Duke didn't even do that great in the NL Central. The Rays are apparently interested in Matt Lindstrom from the Marlins to address their closer role anyway. So, Capps isn't on our radar. Navi and Brignac for Doumit would be my offer to the Pirates first though.

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  3. Matt says:

    Would love to get Doumit, but don't see the point of making Niemann "expendable" by picking up Duke. Hard to be absolutely confident that's even an upgrade, and one surely can't be confident enough to send Brignac away on that gamble. However, Doumit is sweet sweet sweet. Make it so.

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    • maybe "expendable" was a strong word. How about "pretty good trade bait"?

      Maybe I am being hard on Niemann, but I dont think he is ever going to be anything more than a pretty decent back of the rotation guy. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but I think Duke represents an upgrade and he is left-handed, which the Rays suddenly only have one of. And after trading Kazmir, the next lefty with any promise (after Price) is way down in single-A.

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      • cubfanraysaddict says:

        I think Niemann can repeat this season and do better, but as Kyle stated his injury concerns are a little bit much to not consider getting value in a trade, which with 5 years still under team control would be considerable (Matt Gamel?).

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  4. Dirtbag Fan says:

    Adding Duke would most def. NOT make Niemann "expendable".

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  5. stunna says:

    How about Brignac for Doumit?

    They can have Navarro too if they want.

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  6. Ken Kandefer says:

    Who plays SS if if we trade Brignac and Barlett gets hurt for an extended period of time? Ben doesn't have the range and I don't know how good S-rod would be playing that position. I like the depth Reid gives us at this vital position if Jason gets hurt this year. Especially since we have a legitimate chance of winning at least the wild card in 2010.

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    • Red22 says:

      You can't keep a kid here like Brignac to just be a backup in case Bartlett gets hurt. If Bartlett gets hurt anyway, we're not going to be nearly the team we should be. We saw that this year when he was out. He is our MVP, wihtout a doubt. If bartlett's not here, then we don't win 80 games. He's the teams motor, and we have to have him healthy for 162 games if we want to succeed. Brignac won't be the guy because he's just not an impact-type of player.

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  7. Matt says:

    I'd love the doumit deal but we have more young pitchers beside Jeff Niemann. How about Brignac, Matt Moore or Nick Barnese, Shoppach, and cash for Doumit and Duke

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