If you spent most of yesterday watching free agents sign and trades happen at a head-spinning pace, wondering what the Pirates were up to and who on earth would be playing first base for them in 2014, well, Jayson Stark has some news for you:
Clubs that have talked to #Pirates believe James Loney emerging as their top choice at 1B. Heard they've also asked on Adam Lind & Moreland— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 4, 2013
Loney is a free agent who just had a bit of a resurgence with the Rays in 2013. For Loney, though, a bit of a resurgence constituted a .430 SLG and 13 home runs over 598 plate appearances. He's always had a decent ability to get on base coupled with a good defensive reputation, though, and he would probably make a decent platoon player for Gaby Sanchez(he has a .780 OPS against righties and is sub-.700 against lefties). There are plenty of questions about his offensive abilities in general and I'm not really wild about the idea of James Loney as a Pirate, but we can get more into that if he does, in fact, sign with the Bucs.
Of the two trade targets, Adam Lind would obviously be preferrable to Mitch Moreland (or to James Loney, really). Lind's had a bit of a roller-coaster career with Toronto, but he finally got back on track with 23 homers and a .288/.357/.497 line last year. He's pretty reasonably slgned at this point; he'll make $7 million in 2014 and the Blue Jays have options on him for 2015 and 2016 at $7.5 million and $8 million, respectively. That would tend to make me believe that he wouldn't be super-cheap in a trade. It's true that he's essentially a DH that probably has the minimum acceptable bat for a DH, but big TV money has driven this current free agent market crazy and I doubt this is a trend that's going to reverse itself. Given that Lind has been awfully up-and-down over his career and that he's not exactly well-suited for any sort of defense whatsoever, I'd have to pretty carefully consider any trade options, even if it seems like he's a good fit for the Pirates' needs at this point.
Moreland is the odd man out in Texas witht he Prince Fielder trade. As a hitter, he's more or less Garrett Jones, in that he doesn't get on base much and once every two or three years he suddenly hits for power. He's in his first year or arbitration, so he'd be affordable for this coming year and maybe the year after that, but he seems like a last-ditch option of the trio to me at this point.
At any rate, we can at least say that the Pirates are aware that they need to do something with their first base situation. I would say that it's possible that nothing will happen until next week's winter meetings, but given what happened yesterday I think things could move pretty quickly.