Dec 7, 2009, 9:03 PM EST
The Pirates have been mention in connection with a bunch of second-tier free agents this winter, most notably Xavier Nady, Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock. They have money and they need offense, so it’s completely understandable. Yet, at the same time that they’ve keep looking for a first baseman or a right fielder, indications are that they’re trying to move catcher Ryan Doumit.
While most would favor Nate McLouth, Doumit was perhaps the team’s best player in 2008, when he batted .318/.357/.501 and drove in 71 runs in 431 at-bats The performance earned him a three-year, $11.5 million contract last December.
The relationship has soured since then, though. Doumit has always been injury-prone, and the Pirates signed him based on his one relatively healthy season as a major leaguer. He played in just 75 games because of ailments last season, and he lost 140 points off his OPS. He was also quick to express his displeasure when the Pirates traded off McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson and gave up on any chance of competing.
If the Pirates trade Doumit now, they won’t get a whole lot in return. They’ll also likely take quite a hit offensively, though they could make up for some of that by landing a better defensive catcher. What they won’t do is move Jeff Clement back behind the plate. Clement, who has struggled with knee problems, is currently penciled in as the team’s first baseman, but he could be blocked if the club picks up a veteran.
If Clement could catch, a Doumit trade, following by an Ankiel signing, would make plenty of sense. The Pirates could improve offensively and defensively at the same time in such a scenario. But as is, if they trade Doumit, it would likely be to sign someone like Rod Barajas or Ivan Rodriguez to catch. Dioner Navarro might be the best-case scenario. They’re better off taking their chances with Doumit and seeing what Clement can do at first base.
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