Pirates want more offense, yet shop Doumit

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The Pirates have been mention in connection with a bunch of second-tier free agents this winter, most notably Xavier Nady, Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock. They have money and they need offense, so it’s completely understandable. Yet, at the same time that they’ve keep looking for a first baseman or a right fielder, indications are that they’re trying to move catcher Ryan Doumit.
While most would favor Nate McLouth, Doumit was perhaps the team’s best player in 2008, when he batted .318/.357/.501 and drove in 71 runs in 431 at-bats The performance earned him a three-year, $11.5 million contract last December.
The relationship has soured since then, though. Doumit has always been injury-prone, and the Pirates signed him based on his one relatively healthy season as a major leaguer. He played in just 75 games because of ailments last season, and he lost 140 points off his OPS. He was also quick to express his displeasure when the Pirates traded off McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson and gave up on any chance of competing.
If the Pirates trade Doumit now, they won’t get a whole lot in return. They’ll also likely take quite a hit offensively, though they could make up for some of that by landing a better defensive catcher. What they won’t do is move Jeff Clement back behind the plate. Clement, who has struggled with knee problems, is currently penciled in as the team’s first baseman, but he could be blocked if the club picks up a veteran.
If Clement could catch, a Doumit trade, following by an Ankiel signing, would make plenty of sense. The Pirates could improve offensively and defensively at the same time in such a scenario. But as is, if they trade Doumit, it would likely be to sign someone like Rod Barajas or Ivan Rodriguez to catch. Dioner Navarro might be the best-case scenario. They’re better off taking their chances with Doumit and seeing what Clement can do at first base.

Yordano Ventura killed in an auto accident

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 2:  Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals jokes with teammates as he walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.

Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.

Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.

Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.

Report: Tim Lincecum is not ready for retirement

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 29:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).

Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.

While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.