MLB Insiders: Pittsburgh Pirates

Kevin Gregg

The Pirates are on the lookout for a new closer after bidding their old closer goodbye.

Among the free agent closers the Pirates reportedly have interest in are Octavio Dotel, Kevin Gregg and Mike MacDougal.

The Pirates did not tender a contract to Matt Capps, who registered a combined 66 saves in the last three seasons, and he signed with Washington as a free agent.

Dotel, 36, has 83 saves in his career, but only 19 in five seasons since recording a combined 36 for Houston and Oakland in 2004. Last season with the White Sox, he was 3-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 62 games.

Gregg, 31, was the Cubs' closer for most of last season before being replaced by Carlos Marmol, and was 5-6 with 23 saves in 30 opportunities and a 4.72 ERA in 72 games. He has 85 career saves, including 32 in 2007 and 29 in 2008 for Florida.

MacDougal would be trading places with Capps, as he emerged as Washington's closer after being signed as a free agent last season following his release by the White Sox.

The 32-year-old was a combined 1-1 with 20 saves in 21 chances and a 4.31 ERA in 57 games. He has 70 career saves, including 27 for Kansas City in 2003.

NOTES, QUOTES

--SS Ronny Cedeno had a big winter ball season in his native Venezuela, giving him a leg up to retain his starting job with the Pirates in spring training. He hit .300 with 10 home runs and 20 RBIs in 40 games over 150 at-bats for Aragua. The only downside was that Cedeno drew only six walks in 168 plate appearances for a .327 on base percentage.

--1B Jeff Clement will get plenty of extra defensive work in spring training as he continues to make the conversion from catcher. The Pirates moved Clement to first base at Class AAA Indianapolis last season after acquiring him July 29 from Seattle in a trade. However, a strained muscle in his side cost Clement a September call-up and kept him from doing any on-field work during the Pirates' Florida Instructional League camp. Thus, he lost nearly two months of developmental time.

--C Ryan Doumit had a miserable 2009, missing most of the first half because of a broken wrist and needing a big finish to hit .250 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs in 75 games. Doumit also showed an unwillingness to take on a clubhouse leadership role, something that disappointed the Pirates after they signed him to a three-year, $11.5 million contract the previous winter. However, club officials believe Doumit might be ready to grow into that role once he puts a frustrating season behind him.

--General manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell will go into the 2010 season in the final years of their contracts, though the Pirates hold a club option for 2011 on Russell. However, neither man seems to be in jeopardy of losing his job, as club president Frank Coonelly has shown complete faith in both through the dismantling of the major league roster and the beginning of a massive rebuilding project.

--3B Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates' minor league player of the year last season, is ranked as seventh-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America editor John Manuel. Alvarez batted a combined .288 with 27 home runs and 95 RBIs in 126 games for high Class A Lynchburg and Class AA Altoona in 2009, his first season in pro ball. He was the second overall pick in the 2008 draft from Vanderbilt.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- Home runs SS Ronny Cedeno hit in 150 at-bats for Aragua in the Venezuelan winter league. Jack Wilson had that many only once in nine seasons as the Pirates' starting shortstop from 2001-09.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I will always have nothing but good memories of Pittsburgh. It's where my career started, and it's where I made so many good friends and was treated so great by the fans. I'll always cherish my time wearing the Pirates uniform." -- Closer Matt Capps, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with Washington as a free agent after spending his first five seasons with the Pirates.

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