Major League Baseball front office executives are starting to wake up from their holiday hibernations as the hot stove begins to reheat.
Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington still has some work to do before winter turns to spring and the club breaks for sunny Bradenton.
According to a pair of insiders, the Pirates are involved in several aspects of the free agent market. Pittsburgh has interest in free agent outfielder Michael A. Taylor, according to FanSided’s Robert Murray. The Pirates also have interest in a reunion with first baseman Carlos Santana, per Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
Cherington previously said that the Pirates are still in the mix to add to their position player group.
Taylor certainly checks off a lot of boxes. For starters, the Pirates’ need to improve their outfield defense. The 32-year-old veteran would certainly give them that and is capable of manning center field. Taylor was responsible for five defensive runs saved last year with the Minnesota Twins and won a Gold Glove back in 2021.
At the plate, he belted a career-high 21 home runs, stole 13 bases and compiled a .720 OPS a season ago.
Along with the Pirates, Murray says the Twins, San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox are also interested in Taylor’s services.
Even after the addition of Rowdy Tellez earlier in the offseason, the Pirates have at least explored the possibility of bringing back Santana.
Santana was signed by the Pirates as a free agent last winter and was the club’s primary first baseman before he was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers leading up to the trade deadline. In his two stops in 2023, Santana combined to hit .240 with a .747 OPS, 33 doubles, 23 home runs and 86 RBIs in 146 games.
The 37-year-old also played excellent defense with 11 defensive runs saved and a .993 fielding percentage at first base.
Santana would complement Tellez well in a platoon-situation if he was brought back into the equation. Not only is Santana a better defender, but he posted an .807 OPS against left-handed pitching compared to a .727 OPS agaisnt righties.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners are all interested in bringing back their former player.
Heyman also notes the Pirates are among the teams involved in the mid-rotation market. Some possibilities in this tier of the market include Shota Imanaga, Sean Manaea, Hyun Jin Ryu and James Paxton. Imanaga could prove too rich for the Pirates’ taste, however.