Olsen became a free agent in November after being outrighted off the Nationals' roster. He went 4-8 with a 5.56 ERA in 17 games (15 starts) last season. It was Olsen's second year in Washington, which acquired the lefty from the Marlins in a November 2008 trade.
He is coming off two injury-plagued seasons, which is why the deal would include a small base with lots of incentives based on performance. A left shoulder injury ended Olsen's 2009 season in July. He then spent two different stints on the disabled list with left shoulder tightness last year.
In parts of six seasons in the Majors, Olsen is 37-49 with a 4.85 ERA in 130 games (127 starts). He has struck out 528 and walked 239 in 723 innings. Olsen proved durable while with the Marlins, making at least 31 starts each year from 2006-08.
For the Pirates, a deal with Olsen makes sense given that the club's top priority has been to bring in additional starting pitching options. An agreement with Olsen wouldn't cost the Pirates a lot of upfront money, so that protects the club in case Olsen continues to deal with injury issues.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.