Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2013

Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

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    It was a great ride in Pittsburgh this summer but the team couldn't find a way to put away the St. Louis Cardinals after taking a 2-1 lead in the NLDS. Now the team has plenty of key free agents that will make for an interesting offseason.

    The Pirates were going strong, and they were aggressive in making moves to improve the club. Right fielder Marlon Byrd was arguably the best acquisition made by any team during the season, and first baseman Justin Morneau gave Andrew McCutchen some protection. Now Byrd and Morneau will hit the market.

    Right-hander A.J. Burnett has been a big part of turning the Pirates around. He wasn't offered a qualifying offer, and it's unclear if he will even play next season.  

    Tom Singer of MLB.com reported that the Pirates are hoping to re-sign Burnett and shortstop Clint Barmes.

    With so many key pieces—especially on offense—hitting the market, the Pirates need to be aggressive this offseason. The St. Louis Cardinals made the World Series, and the Cincinnati Reds will bring back the majority of its roster next season. If Pittsburgh doesn't make the necessary moves to keep up, it could be in for a disappointing 2014 season.

    Offseasons are filled with plenty of rumors and deals. It can be tough for fans to keep up with, so be sure to check back here every day to see what the latest rumblings are involving the Pirates.

Pittsburgh's Own Free Agents and Done Deals

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    Done Deals

    Nov. 1: LHP Wandy Rodriguez EXERCISED $13 million player option (Astros will pay $5.5 million)

    Nov. 19: Traded LHP Kris Johnson to the Minnesota Twins for RHP Duke Welker, who they traded for Justin Morneau in August, via @Pirates

    Nov. 25: Acquired OF Jaff Decker and RHP Miles Mikolas from the San Diego Padres for 1B/OF Alex Dickerson

    Nov. 25: Designated 1B Garrett Jones and RHP Kyle McPherson for assignment

    Dec. 2: Acquired C Chris Stewart, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, from the New York Yankees in exchange for a RHP Kyle Haynes

    Dec. 2: C Michael McKenry designated for assignment

    Dec. 11: Signed RHP Charlie Morton to a three-year, $21 million extension with a club option for 2017 that could be worth up to $10 million

    Dec. 11: Signed RHP Edinson Volquez to a one-year, $5 million deal, via FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal

    Dec. 12: Re-signed SS Clint Barmes to a one-year, $2 million, via ESPN's Buster Olney

    Dec. 30: Acquired 1B Chris McGuiness from the Texas Rangers in exchange for RHP Miles Mikolas

    PIT Free Agents Who Signed With Another Club 

    Nov. 12: OF Marlon Byrd signed two-year deal with Philadelphia Phillies, via Jon Heyman

    Dec. 3: 1B Justin Morneau signed a two-year deal worth about $13 million with the Colorado Rockies, via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman 

    Dec. 9: 1B Garrett Jones signed with the Miami Marlins, via MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.

    Free Agents

    RHP A.J. Burnett (Age 36)

    2013 stats: 30 GS, 1 CG, 191 IP, 10-11, 3.30 ERA, 165 H, 11 HR, 209 K/67 BB

    SS Clint Barmes (Age 34)

    2013 stats: 108 G, .211/.249/.309, 5 HR, 15 2B, 23 RBI, 14 BB, 70 K

    C John Buck (Age 33)

    2013 stats (with NYM and PIT): 110 G, .219/.285/.367, 15 HR, 11 2B, 62 RBI, 29 BB, 104 K

    2013 stats (with PIT): 9 G, .292/.292/.583, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 5 K

    RHP Kyle Farnsworth (Age 37)

    2013 stats (with TB and PIT): 48 G, 38.1 IP, 3-1, 4.70 ERA, 43 H, 5 HR, 28 K/10 BB

    2013 stats (with PIT): 9 G, 8.2 IP, 1-1, 1.04 ERA, 6 H, 1 HR, 9 K/3 BB

    OF Felix Pie (Age 28)

    2013 stats: 27 G, 29 AB, .138/.194/..172, 0 HR, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 2 BB, 13 K

    Nov. 1: Outrighted off 40-man roster and elected free agency on Nov. 1, via Pirates' Twitter account

    RHP Jeff Karstens (Age 31)

Arbitration Eligible Players

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    Elsa/Getty Images


    3B Pedro Alvarez

    RHP Vin Mazzaro

    LHP Mark Melancon

    RHP Charlie Morton

    1B Gaby Sanchez

    OF Travis Snider

    C Chris Stewart (Dec. 2: Signed a one-year deal)

    2B Neil Walker


    1B Garrett Jones

    C Michael McKenry (DFA)

    RHP Kyle McPherson

    *via Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A.J. Burnett: Free Agent

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    A.J. Burnett has helped turn the Pirates around the last two seasons, but he has a very uncertain future. MLB.com's Thomas Harding reported in early October that Burnett doesn't know what he is going to do.

    The 36-year-old is contemplating retirement. If he does come back, it's likely going to be in Pittsburgh.

    *Update: Thursday, Dec. 26 at 9:50 p.m. ET

    The Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina wrote that Burnett is one of the Baltimore Orioles' top targets to improve their rotation. Burnett won't demand a long contract like other top starting pitchers will.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6:02 p.m. ET

    Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted that even if the Pirates' signing of Edinson Volquez becomes official, A.J. Burnett could still be re-signed by the club.

    Burnett still has yet to make up his mind as to whether or not he will pitch next season.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Nov. 11 at 5:39 p.m. ET

    Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted that most of the Pirates' initial calls to free agents have been to "high upside" pitchers. It's unclear what that means for Burnett, who has yet to decide on his future.

    The Pirates had two plans entering the offseason, and it looks like they are trying to be prepared in case Burnett decides to retire.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. ET

    Burnett's agent told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that his client is still undecided on whether he will pitch or retire.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Nov. 4 at 5:30 p.m. ET

    Biertempfel has tweeted out information from Pirates GM Neal Huntington. For starters, the Pirates are still interested in Burnett, but not for that price. The qualifying offer of $14.1 million would take up too much of the team's budget.

    Huntington does not have any other information on Burnett and will let the pitcher talk about whether or not he will retire. However, Burnett has not returned any calls.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Nov. 4 at 5:00 p.m. ET

    Biertempfel confirmed that the team did not make a qualifying offer to Burnett.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Nov. 4 at 4:30 p.m. ET

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the club is not expected to make a qualifying offer to Burnett.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Saturday, Nov. 2 at 11:25 EDT

    Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review expects the Pirates to make a $14.1 million qualifying offer to Burnett. The team has until Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. ET to make the offer.

    If Burnett accepts, he will get a one-year deal worth $14.1 million. If he declines and signs elsewhere, the Pirates would get a compensatory pick.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Friday, Nov. 1 at 5:50 p.m. EDT

    Biertempfel reported that the Pirates have two plans for this offseason: one with Burnett returning and one without.

    ---End of update---

    Burnett went 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA over the last two seasons in Pittsburgh. He was the leader of the staff for much of his time, but he was passed over when it came time for key starts in the playoffs. Francisco Liriano got the nod in the opener, which meant Burnett had to wait to see if he'd get to pitch in Game 1 of the NLDS. When it came time for Game 5, the Pirates went with rookie Gerrit Cole.

    The right-hander has thrown nearly 400 innings in the last two years, so he is an important part of the rotation. He is able to take the mound and go deep into games.

    It may be a while before he decides what he wants to do, so stay tuned. 

Dec. 11: Signed RHP Edinson Volquez to a One-Year Deal

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Pirates are taking another chance on a risky pitcher. Last winter it was Francisco Liriano, this year it's Edinson Volquez. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that the Pirates have signed Volquez to a one-year deal worth $5 million.

    Volquez appeared to be headed for big things when he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Josh Hamilton before the 2008 season. He went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA that season. His earned run average hasn't been below 4.14 in five seasons since.

    The right-hander did have Tommy John surgery in 2009 and was subsequently suspended for PEDs the following season. 

    It has been a struggle for the pitcher ever since. He once was the Reds' and Padres' Opening Day starter and even opened the 2010 NLDS. Now he has bounced around the league but found a home in Pittsburgh.

    Volquez has good stuff, but his control issues get him in trouble. He led the league in walks (105) in 2012 and he walked 77 in 170.1 innings this past season.

    In 2013, he went 9-12 with a 5.71 ERA and a 1.585 WHIP between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He led the league in earned runs allowed, so he's lucky that his record wasn't worse.

    He is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 20 innings pitched over four starts at PNC Park.

    Volquez was a big part of the deal that sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati, but he didn't become the pitcher that the Padres had hoped. If the Pirates can work their magic like they have with A.J. Burnett and Liriano, this could be a good deal.

Dec. 11: Charlie Morton Signed a Three-Year Extension

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton to a three-year, $21 million extension, via Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, with a club option for 2017 that could be worth up to $10 million.

    Morton had Tommy John surgery in 2012, and he returned to the team this past June. He went 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA and a 1.284 WHIP in 20 starts. He tossed 116 innings, so he was able to get a lot of work a year after having surgery.

    The 30-year-old is 26-41 with a 4.70 ERA in five seasons with the Pirates. He shined in 2011 with a 3.83 ERA in 29 starts, and his nice return in 2013 is a good sign for the club.

    Morton was due to become a free agent after the 2014 season. By giving him an extension now, the Pirates are doing two things. For starters, they are showing that they have faith that he will continue to throw the ball well after surgery. Also, they are trying to keep a pitcher for a reasonable price. The market for starting pitchers has pushed contracts up to huge salaries.

    Pittsburgh managed to keep a pitcher who gets a lot of grounders, and Morton will be able to relax and throw without having to worry about a contract.

Justin Smoak: Trade Target

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Seattle Mariners could be looking to deal Justin Smoak, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in the first baseman, according to USA Today's John Perrotto.

    Seattle acquired Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, so Smoak could be on his way out of town.

    The 27-year-old hit .238/.334/.412 with 20 home runs and 19 doubles. He has a career slash line of .227/.314/.386.

    His average isn't going to help the Pirates much, but his power is something that the team needs. Outside of Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen, there aren't many threats to go deep in this lineup.

    Smoak has seen his home run total increase in each of his first four seasons. He has been able to put up a solid number of homers despite playing at Safeco Field.

    If Seattle puts Smoak on the trading block, expect Pittsburgh to take a look at him.

Matt Guerrier: Free Agent Target

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Matt Guerrier is looking around for a new place to pitch, and the Pirates are interested in the free agent, according to John Perrotto of USA Today.

    Guerrier went 4-4 with a 4.01 ERA and a 1.406 WHIP between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs. He posted a 2.13 ERA in 15 games with the Cubs.

    The right-hander has a 3.51 ERA and a 1.254 WHIP in his 10-year career. The 35-year-old has spent the last three seasons in the National League, so the Pirates have been able to see some of him.

    Pittsburgh had a tough bullpen last season, and adding Guerrier would add yet another quality arm.

Johan Santana: Pirates Interested in Former Ace

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    The Pirates are one of eight teams interested in Johan Santana, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com.

    *Update: Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 12:45 p.m. ET

    Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted that the Pirates have requested Santana's medical records. Santana's agent also plan to meet with Pittsburgh today.

    There are more than eight teams interested in the southpaw, according to his agent via Sawchik.

    ---End of update---

    Santana has missed two of the past three seasons with injuries. He has tossed only 117 innings since the end of the 2010 season, which scares team off, especially at his age.

    The 34-year-old went 93-44 with a 3.22 ERA in four seasons with the Mets. He is 139-78 with a 3.20 in his 12-year career.

    Santana is expected to throw for teams in January. Santana is expected to get offers that are incentive-laden, which would make him affordable to Pittsburgh.

Jason Hammel: Free Agent Target

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Pirates continue to look for a starting pitcher, and they are reportedly interested in Jason Hammel, according to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.

    Hammel went 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA and a 1.457 WHIP in 26 games, including 23 starts, with the Baltimore Orioles in 2013.

    In 2012, he had the best season of his career. The right-hander posted a 3.43 ERA and a 1.237 WHIP, both of which were easily the best of his career.

    The 31-year-old has a career 4.80 ERA and a 1.440 WHIP. Except for the 2012 season, he has never had an earned run average below 4.30 in his eight-year career. 

    Pittsburgh is still waiting to hear back from A.J. Burnett, but it appears that they are preparing to move on.

LHP Justin Wilson Drawing an 'Overwhelming' Amount of Interest

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Left-handed reliever Justin Wilson is drawing a lot of interest, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Pirates are willing to listen.

    Wilson was certainly impressive in his first full season in the majors. After posting a 1.93 ERA in eight games in 2012, he was just as good this past season.

    The 26-year-old went 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.059 WHIP in 2013. He struck out 59 batters and walked only 28 in 73.2 innings in 58 games.

    His emergence certainly played a big part in the bullpen's success. The young pitcher has a lot of value right now, and the Pirates could decide to sell high and get a nice return.

Could Bronson Arroyo Return to Pittsburgh?

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    John Sommers II/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh is exploring different options for its starting rotation. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote that the team has checked in on Bronson Arroyo.

    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 4:29 p.m. ET

    Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted that the Pirates are "likely out" on Arroyo. 

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 3:31 p.m. ET

    MLB.com's Mark Sheldon wrote that Arroyo "wasn't aware" of any of the rumors involving the Pirates. The Philadelphia Phillies, the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels have shown the most interest in him. A return to Cincinnati is unlikely but not out of the question.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 9:50 a.m. ET

    Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted that Arroyo is "very interested" in the Pirates. He also said that the club is interested as well. 

    ESPN's Buster Olney reported that the Pirates plan to meet with Arroyo's agent at this week's Winter Meetings.

    ---End of update---

    The right-hander started his career for the Pirates and pitched with the club from 2000 to 2002.

    Arroyo is 8-7 with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.402 WHIP at PNC Park. He has thrown 117 innings in 25 appearances, including 18 starts. 

    The veteran is one of only two pitchers to make at least 30 starts in each of the last nine seasons. He threw at least 200 innings in seven of his eight years—and he threw 199 in the other—with the Reds. 

    No pitcher has been more durable than Arroyo over the last decade. He has never missed a start. Even if he is getting hit around, he stays in the game to save the bullpen.

    The 36-year-old went 105-94 with a 4.05 ERA in 265 starts in eight seasons with the Reds.

    He has led the National League in home runs allowed in two of the past three seasons, but he does a good job of minimizing the damage of those shots. Twenty-one of the 32 homers he allowed this past season were solo shots.

    Arroyo is a very good pitcher and leader. However, he may be out of the team's budget.

Mike Carp: Trade Target

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Although the Pirates have been linked to several free agents, they are also looking at Boston's Mike Carp to fill their hole at first base, according to John Perrotto of USA Today Sports.

    Carp hit .296/.362/.523 with nine home runs, 18 doubles and two triples in 86 games for the Red Sox this past season. 

    When he has made at least 240 plate appearances, the 27-year-old has been productive on offense. He it .276 in a career-high 313 plate appearances with the Seattle Mariners in 2011.

    Carp hasn't had many opportunities to show what he can do with the bat. However, he has shown enough for the Pirates to be interested in possibly trading for him.

Adam Lind: Trade Target

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    Brad White/Getty Images

    Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind is on the Pirates' radar, according to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.

    The left-handed batter hit .288/.357/.497 with 23 home runs, 26 doubles and 67 RBI. He has a career slash line of.269/.322/.465. He also has 140 career home runs in eight seasons with the Blue Jays. The first baseman has hit at least 23 homers in four of the past five seasons.

    Pittsburgh desperately needs power behind Andrew McCutchen in the lineup. Right now the team doesn't have much help outside of Pedro Alvarez, who hits for power but not average.

    Lind will make $7 million in 2014, and there are two club options worth $7.5 million and $8 million.

    Those are affordable numbers for a slugger, and the Pirates could make a run at the 30-year-old.

Dec. 9: 1B/RF Garrett Jones Signed with the Miami Marlins

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    First baseman/right fielder Garrett Jones was designated for assignment in order to make room for recently acquired players.

    The Miami Marlins have signed first baseman Garrett Jones, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. The two-year deal will be worth $7.5 million, via the Sun Sentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez. Jones will make $2.5 million in 2014 and $5 million in 2015.

    Jones spent the last five seasons with the Pirates, but his offense had been an issue in recent seasons.

    After having a slash line of .274/.317/.516 and adding 27 home runs, 28 doubles and 86 RBI in 2012, Jones had a disappointing 2013 season. He hit only .233/.289/.419 with 15 home runs, 26 doubles and 51 RBI this past season.

    The 32-year-old lost his starting job when the Pirates acquired Justin Morneau. Jones had only 35 at-bats in September, and he had only two at-bats in the team's six playoff games.

    His cost for next season was going to be more than what the Pirates wanted to pay. Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Pirates GM Neil Huntington said the team wasn't "comfortable" with what the arbitration process with Jones would result in.

    Jones is only a career .254 hitter, but he would work well in a platoon situation. The left-handed hitting first baseman has hit only .193 in his career against southpaws, but he has hit .271 against right-handers. He did also have 100 home runs, with 86 of his 102 career home runs coming against right-handers, in his five seasons in Pittsburgh.

Would the Pirates Deal Their Farm for David Price?

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan wrote that the David Price market is expected to heat up within the next week, and the Pirates are one of the teams that believe that they can land him. There are a group of teams that will make a run at the southpaw, so the Pirates would have to be willing to give up a lot to get him.

    The 28-year-old 71-39 with a 3.19 ERA through the first six years of his career. He has made three AL All-Star teams and has won a Cy Young award.

    It seems unlikely that Pittsburgh would be willing to give up a few top prospects in order to land the ace, especially considering he has only two years of team control left. He would cost a lot more than A.J. Burnett, and Price would demand a lot of money if/when he hits the open market.

Dec. 3: 1B Justin Morneau Signed a Two-Year Deal with the Colorado Rockies

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Colorado Rockies have signed first baseman Justin Morneau to a two-year deal worth about $13 million, via CBS Sports' Jon HeymanThe Denver Post's Troy Renck reported earlier that Morneau was close to signing a two-year deal with the Rockies.

    Justin Morneau isn't the same player that he once was but he still had a fairly good season. He hit .259 with 17 home runs and 77 RBI in 2013, so there is still plenty left in his bat.

    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 10:57 p.m. ET

    The Rockies have reached an agreement with first baseman Justin Morneau to a two-year deal worth about $13 million, via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 9:51 p.m. ET

    Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted that the two-year deal will be worth $12 million to $14 million.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 8:20 p.m. ET

    The Denver Post's Troy Renck reported that Morneau is close to signing a two-year deal with the Colorado Rockies. The negotiations are reportedly in the final stages.

    Morneau was the Rockies No. 1 option, and it looks like they will be able to get their man after clearing some money by dealing CF Dexter Fowler.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Dec. 2 at 9:45 a.m. ET

    Phil Miller of the Star Tribune wrote that Morneau hasn't ruled out a possible return to Minnesota at some point in his career. However, it may not be the likeliest landing spot for the first baseman.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 9:45 a.m. ET

    The Denver Post's Troy Renck reported that the Colorado Rockies are "aggressively pursuing" Morneau. The Rockies are looking for an impact bat for either first base or right field, and it appears that they are making a strong run at Morneau to fill a need.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Saturday, Nov. 16 at 11:14 p.m. ET

    Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote that the Tampa Bay Rays could make a run at Justin Morneau. They are looking for options at first base, whether it's via trade or free agency. 

    As much as they'd like to add Morneau, the Rays could probably only sign him if his asking price dropped. The veteran wants to go somewhere to win, and Tampa Bay gives him that opportunity.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Thusday, Nov. 14 at 12:24 p.m. ET

    According to The Denver Post's Troy Renckthe Colorado Rockies have checked in on Justin Morneau. The Rockies are looking for a replacement for Todd Helton, who retired after the 2013 season. They have checked in on several first basemen so far, and it's unclear how interested they are in any of those players.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Nov. 4 at 4:30 p.m. ET

    To clear up any confusion, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review explains that neither Justin Morneau nor Marlon Byrd are eligible for qualifying offers. Both players came over from other teams in the middle of the season.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. EDT

    Steve Adams of MLBTradeRumors.com lists potential landing spots for Morneau: the Toronto Blue Jays, the Boston Red Sox, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Colorado Rockies and the Texas Rangers.

    ---End of update---

    After dealing with multiple losing seasons in Minnesota, the first baseman got back to the postseason with the Pirates this year. Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune reported in the middle of October that Morneau is looking to go somewhere that can win.

    He had not been to the postseason since 2006, and the 32-year-old wants to keep playing baseball in October.

    Pittsburgh wasn't a great fit for him. He failed to hit a home run in 25 games with the Pirates, and he had only four doubles and three RBI while hitting behind Andrew McCutchen.

    Morneau still has some pop in his bat, so he should be able to draw some interest on the market.

    Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted out that Morneau enjoyed playing in Pittsburgh but doesn't expect an offer from the team in the next few days.

Dec. 2: Acquired C Chris Stewart from the New York Yankees

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    Catcher Chris Stewart is reportedly close to being acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. The Pirates sent right-handed pitcher Kyle Haynes to the New York Yankees in exchange for the catcher.

    Stewart hit .211/.293/.272 with four home runs and six doubles in the Bronx last season. He has a career slash line of .214/.287/.288. All of the 31-year-old's eight home runs have come in the last three seaasons.

    The veteran is a defense-first catcher who has thrown out 33 percent of the runners in his career.

    For the second straight offseason, the Pirates have taken a catcher from the Yankees. Last year, the Pirates signed Russell Martin. That turned out to be a very good deal for Pittsburgh, and Stewart would be a solid backup.

    In order to make room for Stewart, C Michael McKenry was designated for assignment. 

Jeff Samardzija: Possible Trade Candidate

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    John Perrotto of Timesonline.com reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

    The right-hander went 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA this past season. He struck out 214 batters in 213.2 innings, which shows that he can carry a heavy workload.

    Chicago could try to sign Samardzija to an extension. If they don't or are unable to come to terms, they could try to trade him. He's already drawn interest from the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Toronto Blue Jays, so the Pirates could be in a bidding war if the Cubs decide to part ways with the pitcher.

    Unless the Pirates overwhelmed the Cubs with a big offer, it would be tough to imagine them trading Samardzija inside the division. He is a talented arm and has the potential to be a big-time pitcher. Intra-division trades are rare, especially involving a player of this magnitude.

Nov. 12: Marlon Byrd Signed with Philadelphia Phillies

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    Marlon Byrd was one of the best acquisitions made by any team this season, and he will be an interesting case when the market starts to heat up.

    *Update: Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 11:30 a.m. ET

    CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman confirmed that the Philadelphia Phillies have signed Marlon Byrd to a two-year deal.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Nov. 11 at 4:18 p.m. ET

    Newsday's Marc Carig tweeted that the New York Mets have recently contacted Byrd's people.

    Byrd signed a minor-league deal with the Mets before this past season, and he hit .285/.330/.518 with 21 homers, 26 doubles, five triples and 71 RBI with the club before being traded to the Pirates in August.

    ---End of update---

    The right fielder hit .291/.336/.511 with 24 home runs, 35 doubles and five triples with the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013. He also knocked in 88 runs. He hit .318 with three homers and 17 RBI in 30 games with the Pirates.

    This was the first time that Byrd had made it to the postseason, and he did not disappoint. He hit .364/.391/.591 with a home run, two doubles and five RBI as the Pirates nearly knocked off the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

    As good as he was this year, there are a few things working against Byrd.

    For starters, he turned 36 this year. He's not going to be able to get a big contract at this point in his career. Byrd also hit only .210 in 2012, so teams are going to wonder which player they are getting.

    Byrd has played on four different teams in the last two years. He was a big part in getting the Pirates back to the playoffs and getting to the NLDS.

    Dan Szymborski of ESPN Insider (membership required) believes that Byrd will be out of Pittsburgh's budget and that the Baltimore Orioles could be a potential landing spot.

Wandy Rodriguez: Exercised Option

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    *Update: Friday, Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. ET

    Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the Rodriguez is expected to be ready for spring training and that there are no plans for any medical procedures for the southpaw.

    *Update: Friday, Nov. 1 at 3:15 p.m. ET

    As expected, left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez has exercised his option, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    Rodriguez has gone 11-8 with a 3.66 ERA in 25 games with the Pirates. He made only 12 starts in 2013 and did not pitch after the first week of June due to a few issues with his arm.

    It comes as no surprise that the 34-year-old exercised his $13 million option. After missing the majority of the season, he will get a chance to show what he can do.

    He has not pitched in the playoffs since his first year in the majors. He finally came to a contender and had to miss the postseason this year. His decision to return to the team is a big boost for the Pirates given the uncertainty surrounding A.J. Burnett.