On Monday, the Pirates must decide what to do with four players with contract options. Rob Biertemfpel writes that the Bucs are likely to decline their options on pitcher Paul Maholm and catchers Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder, but exercise their option on shortstop Ronny Cedeno.â†µ
I think picking up Cedeno's option is the right thing to do - it's cheap, and Cedeno is a pretty good defensive player, and you never know who among the available free agent shortstops will want to play for the Pirates. The Bucs should still consider getting involved in the market for a shortstop this winter, but frankly, they've got bigger problems than Ronny Cedeno.
Of the other three options, I think declining Maholm's is a mistake, as I've written many times at Bucs Dugout. The option is only for one year, and is for a reasonable price, so the option is preferable to grabbing a similar pitcher for what would likely be a multi-year deal on the free agent market - multi-year deals for pitchers usually turn out badly. Also, the Pirates badly need help in their rotation, and it's questionable whether a pitcher of even Maholm's modest talent would be willing to come to the Pirates as a free agent anyway.â†µ
The same article notes that the Pirates could end up pursuing catcher Kelly Shoppach if the Rays decline his option, as they surely will. I don't mind the Bucs declining the options on Doumit (whose option is for two years) and Snyder (whose option is too expensive), but they need to find a catcher in a very thin free agent market. Shoppach, who has power but hit .176 last year, would be a reasonable addition as a minor-league free agent, but he doesn't appear to be a legitimate starter at this point.