Inbox: When will quiet Bucs ignite Hot Stove? – MLB.com

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

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