Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers a list of players the Pirates might pursue if they become buyers, as expected, at the MLB Trade Deadline at the end of the month.
Astros All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence would make sense, though he probably would require a deal heavy with prospects in return. The Pirates could rent a player such as first baseman James Loney from the Dodgers for the rest of the season, or acquire Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake, and his $6 million club option for 2012, if Pedro Alvarez takes longer to come back from injury than expected. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto also would make sense.
I'm not sure I like the idea of trading for Pence, who would cost too much, or Loney, who's just awful.
Blake would make some sense, however. Blake is 37 and would help the Pirates get through the rest of the year at third base. He would also be useful off the bench if Alvarez were to snap out of his funk and hit well. He also probably would not be particularly expensive in terms of prospects.
Soto is an inconsistent performer at catcher, but he isn't far below average at his worst, and he's terrific at his best. The Pirates would probably have to pay a bit more to get him, though, since the Cubs control his rights for the next couple of years. He'd be a great fit for the team, but only at the right price.