According to Jerry Crasnick, the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the teams with an interest in starting pitcher Brandon Webb. Webb missed the entire 2010 season with a shoulder injury, and only made one start in 2009. He made an appearance in the instructional leagues at the beginning of October, but only topped out at 85 MPH with his fastball, and didn’t have much of a curveball. Following the instructional leagues, Webb was expected to take a few months off for rehab.
Webb also has drawn interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds, and the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s a risky signing, and far from a guarantee to return to his former self. Because of that, he isn’t going to command a big salary, likely signing an incentive heavy deal.
The Pirates could be an attractive destination for Webb, considering the availability of spots in the rotation. That would give Webb a shot to sign a one year deal, establish value, and re-enter the free agent market in 2011. The Pirates have also shown interest in Justin Duchscherer and Jeff Francis, who are in similar injury risk situations as Webb, although not as extreme.
Any of these options would be one year deals, with incentive driven contracts. That wouldn’t provide the Pirates with a long term solution for the rotation, although it would be perfect to fill the gap until the 2010 Altoona rotation comes to the majors. Due to the uncertainty surrounding these pitchers, signing one of them doesn’t provide the Pirates with a guaranteed upgrade. A pitcher like Webb, Duchscherer, or Francis would be a great risk for the Pirates to take, but I’d rather see them prioritize an upgrade that will be around for multiple years, rather than taking a gamble on a guy who will only be around for one season.