General manager Neal Huntington readily admits the Pittsburgh Pirates probably made their biggest splash of the offseason when they signed free agent catcher Russell Martin.
"That was our biggest need coming into the offseason, and we filled it with who we identified as the best player at that position and for what we feel was fair market price," said Huntington, who got Martin to agreed to a two-year, $17 million. "I don't think we're going to top that."
Next on the Pirates' wish list is adding a veteran starting pitcher who would join a rotation in which only right-hander A.J. Burnett, left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and righty James McDonald are certainties. The Pirates have been linked to such lower-tier free agents as lefties Francisco Liriano and John Lannan and right-hander Mike Pelfrey.
Liriano, 29, is intriguing because he was once one of the brightest young pitchers in the game, and scouts are still intrigued by his stuff.
Liriano went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 2006 as a rookie for the Minnesota Twins, making 28 appearances, including 16 starts. However, he injured his elbow and required Tommy John reconstructive surgery.
Since having the operation, Liriano has gone 40-49 with a 4.75 ERA in five seasons. He was 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 34 games, including 28 starts, with the Twins and Chicago White Sox last season.
Lannan and Pelfrey are both 28, and both were non-tendered. Lannan spent the majority of last season with the Washington Nationals' Class AAA Syracuse affiliate, and Pelfrey made just three starts with the Mets before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Lannan was 4-1 with a 4.13 ERA in six starts with the Nationals this year and 9-11 with a 4.30 ERA in 24 starts for Syracuse. He has a 42-52 career record in the majors.
Pelfrey had no decisions and a 2.29 ERA before succumbing to surgery. He is 50-54 lifetime in seven seasons with the New York Mets.