Any buzz on [Jose] Quintana or is that fading into the background at this point? Would love to have the top four set going to Florida. -- @scubaguy08
The holiday season is typically quiet throughout baseball, and this past week or so was no exception. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported the Pirates and Yankees were the "most aggressive" clubs in their pursuit of Quintana, and that was about it.
While discussing the Ivan Nova signing last week, general manager Neal Huntington said the Pirates like their current rotation, but they would be open to another addition if it makes sense. Quintana could help them for the next four years, but the White Sox -- dealing from a position of strength -- will set the price justifiably high.
Keep in mind: The Rays asked for two of the Pirates' top-five prospects at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, so start any Quintana deal there and keep adding. You could make the argument for dealing Tyler Glasnow if they get a controllable starter in return. But could they part with Glasnow along with Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, Mitch Keller or Kevin Newman, plus a few other prospects? That's tough.
Meadows is Andrew McCutchen's most likely successor. Bell is their first baseman of the present and future. Keller is a rising star and could be MLB-ready by the time Gerrit Cole and Nova reach free agency. Newman is moving quickly, and he looks like their future shortstop. It's hard to replace players like that.
Quintana makes perfect sense for them, and I understand the desire for a rotation fronted by Cole, Quintana, Jameson Taillon and Nova. But it's all about finding an acceptable deal for both sides, and obviously it hasn't happened yet. Stay tuned.
Does it make sense to try to get [Brian] Dozier? -- @NHPain
It makes sense in the same way Quintana does for every club: Good players make any team better. Dozier, the Twins' second baseman, hit 42 homers and finished with 6.5 WAR in 2016. By WAR, he ranked as the 10th-most valuable player in the Majors last season.
It should be noted that no reported rumors have linked the Pirates to Dozier, who has most often been tied to the Dodgers. I think it's more likely the Pirates stick with Josh Harrison at second and look to enhance their rotation, but they always keep their options open.
Dozier's salary ($15 million total over the next two years) is within their budget, but if they're going to move a package of top prospects, it's more likely they'll do so in pursuit of a proven front-line arm like Quintana. It's unrealistic to expect them to pursue both, especially if it means emptying the farm system.
The counter-argument is that you should seek to upgrade your club -- your projected run differential and, in turn, your projected record -- however possible. With that philosophy, the Pirates might be better off pursuing a hitter like Dozier, a big offensive boost, instead of an incremental rotation upgrade if they don't land Quintana. Again, it all depends on the asking price.
If, for whatever reason, Tony Watson is unable to close for the Pirates because of trade, poor performance or injury, who is the next guy in line to be the closer?
--Tom B., Pittsburgh
They would be comfortable with either Daniel Hudson or Felipe Rivero if Watson is unavailable. At this point, I'd give the nod to Hudson based on experience. Rivero certainly has the stuff to close, but it may take another year for him to grow into that role.
Whatcha think about the Pirates going after Drew Storen or Greg Holland? Both had pretty solid years and could help. Or [Neftali] Feliz? -- @_eismeal5
I think their bullpen is pretty well set in terms of talent and depth at this point, and we'll look into that group later this week and again as Spring Training draws nearer. Since this question was submitted, Storen signed a one-year deal with the Reds. Holland and Feliz seem more likely to land bigger, multi-year deals elsewhere.
That said, if an experienced reliever slips through the cracks and still needs a job when Spring Training starts, it's reasonable to consider the Pirates as a possible landing spot given their opportunistic approach and widespread reputation for helping pitchers.
The news on Gerrit Cole has been very slim this offseason. Is it time for the Pirates to move on or give him one final chance? If he were to be traded or released, what would the Pirates do to fill his absence? -- Logan A., Slippery Rock
For most players, no offseason news is good news -- it means they're not in the trade rumor mill. That's the case with Cole. Not sure why you'd say this is his last chance, because he's under club control for three more years. The Pirates could consider dealing him as he nears free agency, as they do with all their players, but they're a year or two away from having to think about that.
Cole is projected by mlbtraderumors.com to make $4.2 million in 2017. That's a bargain for someone who's only a year removed from a 4.5 WAR, 2.60 ERA, 208-inning season in '15, and he is still only 26 years old. By all accounts, Cole's offseason program is going well after an injury-plagued '16. If he stays healthy, expect him to bounce back in a big way this year.
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.