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Pirates could be busy in Vegas

Pirates could be busy in Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- If the number of Pirates rumors that surfaced over the past week is any indication of the club's level of activity over the next four days, there could be plenty of actual news to report.

General manager Neal Huntington was somewhat vague in verbalizing his priorities for this week beyond the obvious: "Acquire talent," he said.

But regardless of whether or not Huntington delineates the club's priorities, they remain fairly straightforward.

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A veteran starter, a right-handed bat and bench help remain on the shopping list. While Huntington does not comment on specific trade proposals or free-agent prospects, he does have his list of free-agent priorities and has already made some offers. There aren't any indications that signings are imminent, but the Winter Meetings setting always has a way of expediting that process.

In terms of acquisition options, don't expect the Pirates to have a monopoly on any one particular type. There will be waiver claims and likely a Rule 5 Draft selection. There will be Minor League and Major League free agents to sign, and most likely some activity in the trade realm.

"It can come from a combination," Huntington said of his desired talent acquisition. "The market can dictate which way we're going in. If we can make the right trades, we will make the trades. If the trades don't look like they're there, then we'll go other directions."

The fact that the free-agent market has been in a logjam for much of the offseason hasn't helped the Pirates in their pursuit of the second tier of free agents. In many ways, the Bucs are still waiting for the market to be set in order for the rest of the players to then financially fall in place.

Although the Pirates certainly have needs to address, there's no question that while the team's brass meets in its Bellagio suite, everyone else will be waiting to hear shortstop Jack Wilson's fate.

Most indications are that Wilson will be dealt before the start of next season, but little else seems to be agreed upon by various media outlets.

The Newark Star-Ledger reported on Thursday that Wilson had been traded to Detroit. However, the validity of that story was immediately shot down by both Pirates president Frank Coonelly and Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski.

Later that day, one Major League Baseball official told MLB.com that he projected the chances of a Tigers-Pirates deal at only 10 percent. Another high-ranking MLB official also cautioned that no deal was close.

The other plausible Wilson suitor is Los Angeles, though even the Dodgers' level of interest has been cited in various media as serious and in others as virtually nonexistent.

While no deal appears imminent, and the shortstop market still doesn't seem favorable for the Pirates finding an optimal return for Wilson, the search for a deal will continue.

If Detroit does stay in the mix, it's important to note that Wilson has said he does not intend to invoke his limited no-trade clause, which includes the Tigers as one of six teams in it.

In addition to trade talk and potential deals, a number of announcements will be made during the course of the four-day meetings.

At 1 p.m. ET on Monday, the results of both the pre-1943 and post-1942 Veterans Committee Hall of Fame ballots will be announced. The only Pirates alum in this group is Al Oliver, an outfielder who played the first 10 of his 19 Major League seasons with Pittsburgh. Still, Oliver is not likely to be elected despite finishing his career with a .303 batting average.

Also of interest to Pirates fans will be Tuesday's Ford C. Frick Award announcement at 2 p.m. ET. Lanny Frattare, who announced his retirement in October after 33 seasons calling games for the Bucs, is one of 10 finalists for the award, which is presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting. The winner will be honored at the 2009 Hall of Fame induction weekend.

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball will be making an announcement regarding the 2009 World Baseball Classic, while the Baseball Writers' Association of America will name its Spink Award winner.

The week will then wrap up with the Rule 5 Draft at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, during which the Pirates are expected to select a player with the fourth overall pick. By outrighting pitcher Jason Davis and catcher Raul Chavez to Triple-A Indianapolos on Friday, the Pirates have already cleared roster space to make additions, whether it be via the Rule 5 Draft or free-agent signings.

Also, keep in mind that a handful of Pirates prospects may also be selected in the Major League portion of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Most likely to draw interest would be outfielder Jamie Romak, lefty Kyle Bloom and outfielder Brad Corley.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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