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Inbox: Will Bucs pursue a big bat this winter?

Beat reporter Adam Berry answers questions from fans
MLB.com @adamdberry

What type of moves do you see the Pirates making this offseason? I think the pitching looks good, but I would like to see a new big bat in the lineup.
-- Alex W., Corvallis, Ore.

I think your assessment is pretty accurate. I'd be surprised if the Pirates make anything more than minor moves to address their pitching this offseason, because their rotation and bullpen look like potential strengths.

What type of moves do you see the Pirates making this offseason? I think the pitching looks good, but I would like to see a new big bat in the lineup.
-- Alex W., Corvallis, Ore.

I think your assessment is pretty accurate. I'd be surprised if the Pirates make anything more than minor moves to address their pitching this offseason, because their rotation and bullpen look like potential strengths.

I don't think they'll get that "big bat" everyone seems to want, somebody who's going to add 35-40 homers to the lineup. There aren't many of those on the free-agent market, first of all, and the few who are available -- like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado -- will ask for more than the Pirates are willing to spend.

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However, I do expect the Bucs to upgrade their position-player group in some way.

Where might they realistically aim to improve? The most likely answers right now are shortstop, third base and right field for as long as Gregory Polanco is rehabbing from shoulder surgery.

Kevin Newman will be part of the mix at shortstop, but it seems the Pirates are interested in adding a veteran there as well. They could really use a solid defender given their infield issues this season --someone along the lines of Jose Iglesias, Freddy Galvis or old friend Adeiny Hechavarria. They could even bring back Jordy Mercer with the understanding that he'd be taking on a reserve role.

Colin Moran will be back at third base, looking to provide more power offensively and range defensively. They could again pursue a right-handed-hitting veteran, the role David Freese played well until he was traded, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's Jung Ho Kang. Now strictly a third baseman, Kang might best fit that "big bat" bill if he's still capable of hitting the way he did in 2015-16.

If Polanco is out until June, the end of his recovery timeline, will they trust Jordan Luplow and/or Pablo Reyes in right field? Maybe, but it would only make sense for them to scour the market for outfielders who could play regularly for a few months then move into a backup role. Alternatively, they could pursue an everyday second baseman and free up Adam Frazier to bounce around the diamond.

I know it is a small sample size, but is this what I can expect from Chris Archer? I don't see him as an upgrade. Is he a legitimate No. 1 or 2 starter?
-- Jeffrey P., Frankfort, Ind.

I think it's fair to expect something more like the September Archer (2.70 ERA) than the August Archer (6.45 ERA).

It's easy to forget that Archer hurried back from a left abdominal strain in June -- his first time on the disabled list -- and pitched to four catchers in half a season with the Rays. He was also evolving as a pitcher during the middle of the season, introducing two-seam fastballs and curveballs into his arsenal.

By the end of the season, Archer was back in a routine and working well with Francisco Cervelli as his primary catcher. Archer may be three years removed from his last "ace"-like campaign, but he still has the stuff, durability and drive to join Jameson Taillon atop a good rotation.

It sounded like the pitchers really liked throwing to Jacob Stallings at the end of the season. Will he be on the team next season?
-- Zack M., Pittsburgh

That's an excellent observation, Zack. Stallings has always been known as a strong defensive catcher, and pitchers really enjoy working with him. His preparation is top notch, and it shows. That's not a knock on Cervelli or Elias Diaz, by the way; pitchers rave about their work as well.

Stallings will be out of Minor League options next season, so general manager Neal Huntington said the Pirates are at least considering the idea of putting three catchers on the roster. Otherwise, they'd have to run Stallings through waivers and risk losing him.

How would that arrangement work? For one, it would let manager Clint Hurdle to aggressively use Cervelli or Diaz -- two of the team's best hitters this season -- as a bat off the bench. It would also allow Cervelli, who dealt with another round of concussion issues this season, to spend a little time at first base on his days off.

It may not be sustainable in the long haul, especially if they carry eight relievers, but it's a story worth following when Spring Training rolls around.

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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