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GM: Bucs looking to add rather than subtract

Huntington says conversations have been more about buying at Deadline
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- While there has been speculation that the Pirates could be sellers before next month's non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager Neal Huntington said the club's current outlook is just the opposite.

"We've had more conversations about adding players at this point in time than we've had about subtracting players," Huntington said on Sunday.

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PITTSBURGH -- While there has been speculation that the Pirates could be sellers before next month's non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager Neal Huntington said the club's current outlook is just the opposite.

"We've had more conversations about adding players at this point in time than we've had about subtracting players," Huntington said on Sunday.

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After a hot start to the season that left them nine games over .500 on May 17, the Pirates struggled for a full month and fell below .500. They moved back to the break-even point on Saturday before dropping Sunday's game, 8-6, and Huntington remains hopeful that the Bucs will work their way into the postseason race so they can supplement their current roster.

"We'll continue to look to add to this club if we can, if it makes sense," Huntington said. "As every team that is in our situation gets closer to the Deadline, you evaluate where you are. … Our intent is to continue to give this club every chance in the world to show us that we can continue to do the things that we did the first six weeks, eight weeks to put ourselves nine games over and that we can dig out of this hole that we've dug ourselves over this tough stretch of 30 days."

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi wrote on Thursday that the Pirates are "expected to make veteran players available next month unless they catapult back into the NL Central race." The Bucs dealt pending free agents Mark Melancon (2016) and Tony Watson ('17) prior to the Trade Deadline, and they have a handful of veterans nearing the end of their current contracts this season.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer is in his final season of club control, and this is the final guaranteed year of second baseman Josh Harrison's contract, which includes club options for 2019 and '20. Corner infielder David Freese has a team option for next season. Super-utility man Sean Rodriguez will be a free agent this winter.

Left fielder Corey Dickerson has one more year of arbitration eligibility after this season, while catcher Francisco Cervelli and starter Ivan Nova will also be free agents after the 2019 season.

The impending return of infielder Jung Ho Kang, who continues to work at shortstop and third base at Triple-A Indianapolis, could play a role in the Bucs' decision-making -- even if they look to add -- given their depth at third base with Freese and starter Colin Moran.

Video: Berry breaks down Kang returning to the Pirates

"At that point in time, we'll have an interesting scenario," Huntington said.

If the Pirates are in a position to add, will they be able to take on salary? The club cut its Opening Day payroll this season after trading Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, and attendance at PNC Park is on pace to fall for the third straight season.

"Our job is to put a winning team on the field, to put a team on the field that these fans want to come support," Huntington said. "We have a great core fanbase. We have people that love to come to PNC Park and love baseball. Our job is to put a team on the field to draw that next wave of fans back out again. We're going to do everything in our power to do that."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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