There hasn’t been much to the Pittsburgh Pirates offseason so far. The signings of pitchers Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen, along with inking first baseman Lyle Overbay and outfielder Matt Diaz, likely make the Pirates a marginally better team than in 2010.

Then again, when you finish the season 57-105, anything you do in December likely makes you a better team.

The four newcomers aren’t flashy signings, and while other teams in the division are acquiring the likes of Zach Grienke, the Pirates have been awful quiet the past few weeks. 

That begs the question. Are the Pirates done this offseason?

The answer to that is a definite no.  Will they acquire a major talent like Grienke?  That answer is also no, but they still have a chance to add some parts.

While I covered the Winter Meetings, I heard the Pirates linked to many names. Most of that talk has fizzled, but there are still some possibilities.

They are still looking at some starting pitching. Brandon Webb’s name keeps coming up, but that’s not going to happen. One name that has popped up lately though is Carl Pavano, the best remaining arm on the open market.

Pavano has been very good the past two seasons, but I’d be very hesitant on offering him more than two or three years. He’s likely out of the Pirates’ price range anyway.

One possibility though is Jeff Francis, who is coming off of injury, but has had success under new Pirates manager Clint Hurdle while in Colorado.  Francis is very talented, and if he’s healthy, would likely be the most talented pitcher currently on the Pirates roster.

That’s a big if, though, when it comes to Francis.

Still, Francis is the type of arm the Pirates would be wise to take a long look at.

Another name that looks like it could end up in Pittsburgh is a familiar one in Octavio Dotel.

Jon Paul Morosi from FOX Sports reports that the Pirates are one of three teams showing serious interest in the right-handed reliever, with the Rays and Blue Jays being the other two. Consequently, those are the three teams that would likely be able to offer Dotel a chance at closing.

Would it be a bad move to bring Dotel back? Not at all. Despite the 2010 record, the back end of the Pirates bullpen actually performed pretty well. Dotel would give you a veteran arm that can get outs late in a game.

Sure, he can be a bit erratic at times, but the Pirates could do much worse than Dotel.  Having defined roles in innings seven through nine would be a good thing to have. Sure, it’s easy to say that Evan Meek or Joel Hanrahan will assume the closer role, but there is no guarantee they can hold up in the ninth inning.

Even if they could, the Pirates bullpen is much thinner than it was a season ago, and adding another arm would be big.

I’m all for signing Dotel, if you get him on a one-year deal. That would allow Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington to flip him at the deadline again. If he could even come close to matching last season’s return of Andrew Lambo and James McDonald, it would be amazing.

While signing Dotel is another move that wouldn’t be flashy and do much for the casual fan, it would be another small piece in making the Pirates a somewhat better team in 2011.

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