Sep 28, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau (66) makes a play during the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Pirates defeated the Reds 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Bucs unlikely to pursue Justin Morneau

When free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates will certainly be in the market for a first baseman.

And while names such as James Loney, Kendrys Morales and Paul Konerko could all be on Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington’s radar, one name that likely won’t be will be Justin Morneau.

Sep 13, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau (66) in the field against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Chicago Cubs won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Morneau told the Tribune-Review he does not expect an offer from the Pirates during the team’s exclusive-negotiating period, which ends Monday.

“They have said they don’t expect to do anything before the window is closed but are still interested,” Morneau said in an email. “My options are wide-open.”

That’s really not much of a surprise as it seemed very unlikely that the Bucs would pursue the former American League MVP after he was unproductive after the Pirates acquired him in an August 31 trade with the Minnesota Twins.

In 31 games with the Pirates, including six in the playoffs, Morneau batted .267 with no home runs and only three RBIs.

I doubt the Pirates have any interest in bringing Morneau back at all, but he could become an option if the Bucs can’t land an upgrade.

One thing is clear though and that is the fact that the Bucs must find a first baseman somehow.

Their first basemen ranked 22nd in Major League Baseball in OPS last season, prompting the trade for Morneau. Pirates first baseman also ranked 25th in all of baseball in home runs and RBI.

Both Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez are eligible for arbitration. Jones isn’t likely to be tendered a contract, while Sanchez is likely to be brought back as he was productive against left-handed pitching.

It will be very interesting to see how aggressive the Pirates are pursuing first baseman in the offseason as it should be the team’s top priority,

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Tags: Justin Morneau Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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