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Inbox: When will quiet Bucs ignite Hot Stove?

Beat reporter Adam Berry offers thoughts on Cole, McCutchen and more
MLB.com @adamdberry

What is going on this offseason? It's December and it seems like nothing has happened. Are the Pirates just waiting to see what everyone else does?
-- Bill K., Pittsburgh

In terms of activity, it's been a quiet offseason throughout baseball -- not just in Pittsburgh. There have been few meaningful transactions, and most of the speculation has been focused on Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani.

What is going on this offseason? It's December and it seems like nothing has happened. Are the Pirates just waiting to see what everyone else does?
-- Bill K., Pittsburgh

In terms of activity, it's been a quiet offseason throughout baseball -- not just in Pittsburgh. There have been few meaningful transactions, and most of the speculation has been focused on Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani.

For the Pirates, even the rumors have been few and far between. We've heard two nuggets from MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi: They've discussed free-agent infielder Neil Walker, a sign they'd be willing to add talent for 2018, and they've at least kept in contact with the Giants about Andrew McCutchen, more likely a sign they'd take a step back.

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I still think the Pirates will hang on to McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, add around the margins and hope everything that went wrong in 2017 goes right in '18. It's fair to expect more out of their veteran core and their young players if everyone's healthy. But they might be waiting to see how the market develops before committing to that strategy.

Somebody is going to land Stanton, and that should kick-start the rest of the outfield market. Clubs that might not commit long term to free agents like J.D. Martinez or Lorenzo Cain could turn their attention toward McCutchen, and the Pirates would listen as they did last offseason. That doesn't mean he'll be traded, but what if the offer is right?

Ohtani will fill out somebody's rotation, then perhaps the run on starting pitching will finally begin. The free-agent class isn't full of top-of-the-rotation potential, but would someone part with prospects to acquire Cole? Considering their budget and odds of contending next season, general manager Neal Huntington must at least listen.

It's odd that even the market for relievers is moving so slowly. The Pirates, in need of a left-hander in front of Felipe Rivero, should be involved on that front.

Hopefully there's more movement this week, and activity is bound to increase next week when all 30 clubs gather for the Winter Meetings. Somebody has to make a splash soon, right?

Will the Pirates use some of the surplus starting pitching in Triple-A to trade for a third baseman? Especially considering that Tyler Glasnow, Steven Brault and Nick Kingham are on their last option year.
-- Guy Y., Blawnox, Pa.

I don't know if they'll use it specifically to trade for a third baseman, but they'll use it to address some sort of need, even if it's in the bullpen. Huntington has entertained the idea of putting a young starter or two in the Opening Day bullpen, much like they did with Trevor Williams last season.

Let's say the Opening Day rotation includes Cole, Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, Chad Kuhl and Williams. Glasnow and Brault have little more to prove in Triple-A, so why not use one or both in relief and see how they handle it?

Glasnow and Brault would still be available as rotation depth, as Williams showed, and the Pirates would have Kingham, Clay Holmes and Tyler Eppler waiting in Triple-A. Don't forget that the next wave of pitching prospects, led by Mitch Keller, is not far behind in Double-A.

Seems like it's time to move some of those arms to the bullpen or move them elsewhere, especially if there's a chance to bolster the lineup.

What will the Bucs do with outfielder Jordan Luplow in 2018?
-- Terry M., Marietta, Ohio

That depends on what they do this offseason. If they add a fourth outfielder, something they badly needed at times last season, then he might be bound for Triple-A. If they stick with what they have, Luplow looks like an option for the Opening Day roster.

Luplow, 24, struggled in his first spin through the Majors, but the power he showed in the Minors is intriguing for a Pirates team that ranked 29th in slugging percentage this year. He played only 44 games in Triple-A, so sending him back there wouldn't exactly be an insult.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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