Pirates have a surplus of southpaws in 'pen

Pirates have a surplus of southpaws in 'pen

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington often brings up manager Clint Hurdle's annual request for three left-handed relievers. As the Pirates' roster currently stands, Hurdle is in line to open the season with four lefties.

Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero and Antonio Bastardo are all under control for next season, and the Bucs on Friday retained Wade LeBlanc by signing him to a one-year deal with an option for 2018. Pittsburgh may choose to deal from that surplus, with the most likely move being Bastardo or even Watson, as both are free agents after next season.

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But on the first day of the Winter Meetings on Monday, Huntington said those southpaws are different enough to avoid overlapping. LeBlanc would be a long man and spot starter, Bastardo a middle reliever, Rivero a setup man and Watson the closer.

Bastardo ends the 6th

"Watson, Rivero and Bastardo all get right-handers out really effectively, so it's not like we've got three guys with huge splits that are typically left-on-left guys," Huntington said. "We've got three guys that can get left and right out and feel very good about them."

The Pirates would like to carry at least two multiple-inning relievers, with LeBlanc and right-hander Juan Nicasio the leading candidates for those jobs. But LeBlanc's deal is non-guaranteed, which means the Bucs could cut him during Spring Training if he is not able to repeat the success he had out of Pittsburgh's bullpen down the stretch in September.

Club unaware of Kang's previous DUIs

Third baseman Jung Ho Kang's DUI arrest in Seoul, South Korea, last week was his third since 2009, according to a report by the Yonhap News Agency. Kang was previously arrested in 2009 and '11, Seoul police told the news outlet.

The Pirates were not aware of Kang's previous arrests when they signed him two years ago, Huntington said. The next step for Kang, according to Huntington, is an assessment mandated by the collective bargaining agreement.

"Our focus right now is to get him the assessment and get him whatever help we can provide," Huntington said. "It will be a part of our process as we go forward in terms of how do we help him? How do we get him back on the right track? How do we help him become not only a very productive player but a quality man as well?"

Rehab updates

Right-hander Gerrit Cole (elbow) and second baseman Josh Harrison (groin) have moved on to "normal" offseason programs after recovering from the injuries that sidelined them down the stretch," Huntington said.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.