John Perrotto is reporting that once again, Reid Brignac has captured the attention of the Pittsburgh Pirates front office. Perrotto says that once the winter meetings kick off in Indianapolis next week, Brignac will be the primary trade target for the Buccos. Their affinity for Brignac dates back to the summer of 2008 when the Rays and Pirates discussed a potential swap of Brignac + for then Pirate, Jason Bay. The deal was even reported as done, but as you all know Bay ended up in Boston.
While Perrotto doesn't mention who the Rays asked for in return, he mentioned that the Pirates have tried to pass off closer Matt Capps and possibily have thrown around the idea of starter Zach Duke. Duke, an All Star in 2009, wouldn't make much sense for the Rays. Sure, he is young (26) and left-handed, but he'd probably the fifth or sixth best starter on the Rays without counting Jeremy Hellickson. He also made $2.2 million dollars last season and will defintely see a nice raise in arbitration with an all star appearance to his credit. The only way I see the Rays acquiring Duke is to flip for additional prospects.
Matt Capps had an ugly 2009 highlighted by his 5.80 ERA and his 4.90 FIP. Either number you choose to look at is ugly, but hey he had 27 saves! The good news is Capps appears to have broken a few mirrors and stepped on a few cracks at some point between the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 and is in line for some regression. The biggest problem for Capps in 2009 was home runs. Allowing 10 home runs in 54.1 innings, he watched his HR/9 nearly double from 0.84 in '08 to 1.66 in 2009. This can be attributed to a HR/FB rate that also almost doubled from 6.8% to 13.5%. His BABIP also jumped nearly .100 points to .370
In 2007 and 2008, Capps proved to be an above average reliever. With some regression to the mean, he could be back to those levels in 2010. Like Duke, Capps is 26, however, he is under contract for 2009 at a reasonable $2.3 million with some incentives for games finished. The bad news is it is the final year of a two-year deal. Stuff wise, Capps sits in the mid 90s and throws a slider and a change-up. Despite the solid velocity, he doesn't strikeout many, but keeps his walks in check (career BB/9 1.66).
Obviously, I wouldn't agree to a Brignac for Capps deal straight up, but it could be a starting point. The fact that the Rays would be giving up more controlled Brignac years would mean the Pirates would need to sweeten the pot quite a bit.