Pirates targeting high upside pitching in free agency

Doug Pensinger

The team is still unsure if A.J. Burnett will return in 2014.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have focused their free agent search on starting pitchers with high upside, reports Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

General manager Neil Huntington says the team is still uncertain if A.J. Burnett will choose to retire or continue playing in 2014. If he does choose to prolong his career, they cannot be certain he will re-sign in Pittsburgh. If Burnett does not stay with the Pirates another year, their free agent search can be expected to intensify, even with Wandy Rodriguez expected to make a healthy return.

A move for a talented pitcher worked out well for the Pirates in 2013. The team signed Francisco Liriano to a one year, $1 million deal with a team option for 2014. Prior to signing in Pittsburgh, he had an ERA over 5.00 in five of the last six years. However, he was clearly talented and has had solid-to-great seasons in the past as well. Liriano ended up making 26 starts for the Pirates, posting a 3.02 ERA and 1.22 WHIP while leading the team to a postseason appearance.

The Pirates 2014 rotation currently consists of Liriano, Rodriguez, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke. With the team poised to continue competing, they may be looking to strengthen the back end of the rotation.

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