The urgency to deal away particular players isn't as pronounced for the Bucs as it has been the past two seasons, but that doesn't mean team officials aren't listening. And if the club is compelled by an offer this week, be sure that it will be strongly considered.
"This year, we've got some guys that we're not real motivated to move," general manager Neal Huntington said. "If we get a good baseball trade, then we'll make it. But we're beyond the prospect-collection mode, and we're trying to move forward with this group."
One person who won't be in the group moving forward is Brendan Donnelly, who was designated for assignment Sunday. The Pirates have a 10-day window to try to trade Donnelly, and the Pirates will actively try to do so. However, Huntington found no takers on the 39-year-old right-hander before designating Donnelly for assignment, and that's not likely to change.
If a team waits until Donnelly is released, it could add the veteran reliever for a fraction of what it would cost to acquire him in a trade.
Though Donnelly hasn't garnered any interest, other members of the Pirates' bullpen have. Other teams would covet an arm like Evan Meek or Joel Hanrahan, but Pittsburgh would have to be blown away by an offer to deal either. The Bucs have Hanrahan's rights for another three seasons, and Meek can't become a free agent for another four. The team isn't looking to move either one.
If a reliever is dealt, it's likely to be Octavio Dotel. The Pirates have remained mum on whether they plan to exercise Dotel's $4.5 million option for 2011. If that's not in the plans, the club could get some sort of return for him now.
A number of teams have had their eye on the 36-year-old closer, but the fact that left-handed hitters have had decent success against Dotel this season could scare away some suitors. If Dotel is dealt, he'll almost surely be used as a late-inning setup man, not as a closer.
D.J. Carrasco's name is another that could surface more as the week progresses and the relief market begins to play itself out. With a dearth of relievers available, the value of someone like Carrasco could turn out to be higher than usual.
All it might take is for one or two relievers to come off the board for a frenzy of moves to follow.
"The move of Cliff Lee already, that was probably the biggest chip that was on the market," Huntington said. "It seems relatively quiet. The money seems to be really tight within the industry. The rumor mill is strong, but I think overall as we get closer to the 31st, things will heat up like they always do."
While the Pirates' bullpen appears the most at risk to be broken up by Saturday, the team will continue to listen on all fronts. Inquiries about Paul Maholm's availability have reportedly been made, but with the lack of quality starting pitching currently at the Major League level, Pittsburgh would need to be overwhelmed by a package to move the left-hander.
The relative youth and inexperience of most of the Bucs' starting position players means it's unlikely one of them would be moved. Rather, this is the group that the organization expects to build around.
"These young guys we have up here and some of the other guys around -- no matter where you are in baseball, there's always going to be trade talks, there's always going to be trade rumors but it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to do anything for the most part," manager John Russell said. "We're building in the right direction, we like the youth movement that we have here and [we'll] continue to build around those guys, and that's a great opportunity for a lot of the guys in this clubhouse."