The Pirates are having serious talks with former Mets outfielder Ryan Church, a player recently rumored to be of interest to the Cardinals, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Church, a .272 career hitter, not only represents the outfield depth the Redbirds need, he is also a lefty bat, which is something that is in very short supply on the St. Louis roster. Ironic, since last year the Birds had a whole pile of lefty flychasers.
Pittsburgh was said to be interested in one of those former Cardinals lefties, free agent outfielder Rick Ankiel. But agent Scott Boras has apparently scared off the Bucs with demands for a multi-year contract and promises of a starting job. Ankiel was also being considered by the Royals. But they went with former Brewers and White Sox outfielder Scott Posednik.
The Cardinals could offer Church a chance to win, but Pittsburgh has the advantage in being able to offer the opportunity to compete for a starting job and in the circumstances could probably pay more than the Redbirds are willing to spend. Manager Tony La Russa would certainly find some at bats for Church. But, barring injury or an unexpected regression from Colby Rasmus, he's got no chance to be a starter here.
I think, at this point, the Cardinals may be willing to wait until we get close to the start of spring training to make any more significant moves. I have wondered if the team's need for a lefty who can play all three outfield positions would somehow result in an Ankiel reunion. But I just can't see it. Ankiel wants to be a starter to build his value and the chance just isn't there in St. Louis. Besides, the Cardinals must be Borased out at this point thanks to the tedious Matt Holliday negotiations.
Another player I thought the Cardinals may have some interest in, former Devil Ray, Oriole, Astro and Tiger Aubrey Huff, signed over the weekend with the Giants. Huff got $3 million, a reasonable amount considering his resume, but that's half -- or at least nearly half -- of what the Birds have left to spend.
Huff can play several positions including third base. But he doesn't play any of them particularly well. So the Cardinals probably weren't willing to break the bank on him.