Bucs listening, but expect to hold on to Cervelli

December 11th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- The Pirates almost always listen to offers for players nearing free agency, so it comes as no surprise that they are at least willing to consider trading someone as important to their team as catcher .
But on the first full day of the Winter Meetings, general manager Neal Huntington didn't sound especially eager to part with pending free agents Corey Dickerson, and Cervelli.
"We don't look to trade players just because they're in their last year [of their contracts]. But if it makes sense to us to continue the chain and be able to reallocate some of those dollars, we'll always listen," Huntington said Monday at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. "There are times we'll be more aggressive than others, and in Cervelli, Dickerson and Nova's case, they fit really well for us. So it's going to have to be something that makes sense for us in the big picture to have us entertain that."

Obviously, the right offer could change the Pirates' mind. But it's particularly hard to see them trading Dickerson, a National League Gold Glove Award-winning left fielder who hit .300 last season, when right fielder is expected to start the season on the disabled list.
Cervelli is a more likely trade candidate considering his $11.5 million salary for next year, 's emergence last season and being out of Minor League options. But Cervelli was one of the Majors' most productive catchers when he was healthy last season, and the Pirates' catching depth is thin behind the three backstops on their 40-man roster.
It likely would take a significant offer, as Huntington said, to convince Pittsburgh to move Cervelli this offseason. Clubs like the Dodgers and Mets could use a veteran catcher, but may be more intrigued by Marlins star J.T. Realmuto. There are also a number of experienced backstops available in free agency, which might lessen the demand for Cervelli.
The Pirates have considered carrying all three catchers on their roster next season.
Around the horn
• Huntington said the Pirates will "continue to take a look" at the market for left-handed relievers. Closer Felipe Vazquez and converted starter are the only lefties on their 40-man roster. Beyond those two, their top internal option would be prospect Brandon Waddell, who was left unprotected prior to Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
• Polanco's recovery from September shoulder surgery is going well, Huntington said, but the Pirates won't have a better understanding of his availability until he begins a throwing program between mid-January and the start of Spring Training. Pittsburgh's initial estimate stated Polanco, who sustained season-ending injuries on an awkward slide into second base, could return any time between mid-April and mid-June.

• With signed to play right field in Polanco's absence, the Pirates plan to make their regular second baseman. Frazier's defense improved down the stretch last season, when he began to receive everyday work there, and he put together a .306/.357/.533 slash line in the second half after adjusting his swing in Triple-A.
• Huntington said right-handers Chris Archer (bilateral hernia) and Joe Musgrove (abdominal wall muscle strain) are on schedule in their rehabilitation from offseason surgery. Both pitchers are expected to be ready for Opening Day.
"Both are meeting the timelines, meeting the demands of their rehab. Both feel really positive," Huntington said. "Both are excited about how they're feeling post-surgery. Both are excited about having a full season of health and not having the abdominal discomfort that they had over the course of the year last year."