The already thin starting pitching market took a big hit this morning with the announcement that southpaw Jorge De La Rosa has re-signed with the Colorado Rockies for a deal estimated to be around the $30 million range for three years.

De La Rosa is the latest in a busy week for starting pitchers that saw Javier Vazquez, Jon Garland and Hiroki Kuroda all sign new deals.

In essence, a very thin starting pitching market just got a whole lot thinner, especially for teams like the Pirates.

General Manager Neal Huntington warned everyone before the offseason that a major starting pitching signing is not likely, because the available arms just aren’t there.

So what’s the next step for the Pirates in their search for quality starting pitching?  De La Rosa would have been a nice grab and someone I’d commit multiple years to, but the Pirates had no realistic chance there.

Cliff Lee is naturally out of the question, which makes Carl Pavano the top arm on the open market.  Pavano is coming off a very good 2010, but he’s someone the Pirates shouldn’t even look at.

The goal here is to stick to the plan.  Investing multiple years at $10 million-plus in a guy like Pavano would be straying very far away from the plan.

Which brings us to the next group of available arms.  These are all guys coming off injury that may be worth taking a shot on with a one-year deal.  That list includes the likes of Erik Bedard, Brandon Webb, Jeff Francis, Ben Sheets, Chris Young and Justin Duchscherer.

Any name in that list could be worth taking a shot on.  Roll the dice and hope you get lucky.  The Pirates have kicked the tires on Webb, but nothing seems likely.

Another name currently being linked to the Pirates is Washington Nationals SP Scott Olsen.  He’s nothing special and is coming off an injury as well, but if healthy could likely suck up some innings for the Pirates.

Unless Huntington can swing a deal for a quality arm, these are likely the candidates and truthfully, most of them are likely not to be pursued anyways.

That brings us to a list of arms headed by the Brewers’ Dave Bush. Quite frankly, if the Pirates wanted to go that route, they already have Brian Burres and other journeymen arms. 

If the Pirates don’t significantly improve the starting rotation, there is absolutely no need to throw money at a guy that won’t help the current club or fit into the long-term plans. 

It’s not like the Pirates will improve 50-plus games in the standings next season.  Signing an arm or two is a luxury and not a necessity.

It’s more important that the club sticks to the plan.  Continue to draft well and get young arms throughout the system.

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