NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Here are the highlights of our meeting with Neal Huntington this afternoon.
***Huntington said Joel Hanrahan's trade value was probably at its highest last summer, rather than right now, with free agency looming in 2014 and the fact that Hanrahan needs a qualifying offer for the Pirates to get draft pick compensation.
"As we were in competition, it was awfully tough to trade your closer," Huntington said. "It's awfully tough to trade your closer now."
***The Pirates are "absolutely" interested in bringing Jason Grilli back and remain engaged with him and his agent. Bringing Grilli back would provide a closer option and make trading Hanrahan easier.
***Huntington said the Pirates don't feel pressure to find a starting pitcher. "We’ve got guys we like," he said. "It’s a matter of finding upgrades. The one big need we had was a catcher. We went and got the guy we weanted. We went and got, in our minds, the best overall catcher on the market. We paid for it, but we feel good about what we paid for it, and now it’s just searching for upgrades."
***It sounds highly unlikely that Gerrit Cole will get a chance to compete for the rotation.
"Garrett’s just finished his first full professional season," Huntington said. "We could not be more pleased with his growth and his development and we’re going to do everything in our power to put him in a position to be successful. There are some guys that are flying through systems and being successful. There’s a lot of guys in the history of the games that have flown through systems and you still wonder whatever happened to them. Gerrit’s an important piece of our future and we have to make sure that we coordinate his development and put him in a position to be successful for years to come for the Pirates, not just because we’re a little bit uneasy with who our rotation is on opening day."
***Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez will platoon at first base as of now.
***Huntington implied that Starling Marte and Travis Snider will start in left and right field, and Alex Presley and Jose Tabata will have to fight for spots. "Alex Presley coming in to fight, Jose Tabata coming in to fight, we're going to have some interesting decisions and some depth and some choices," Huntington said.
***Tabata is working out with a personal trainer in Florida. Huntington said the Pirates decided it was better for him to work out and get in shape than to play winter ball, which according to reports he wanted to do.
***The shoulder fatigue that forced Kyle McPherson to leave winter ball early should not keep him out of spring training at all, Huntington said.
***The Pirates will probably not prevent Russell Martin or any other players from participating in the World Baseball Classic.
***Huntington said the Pirates had some payroll flexibility to spend after adding Martin but did not elaborate on "some."
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