Beside Jorge de la Rosa (who the Pirates are “among [the] most aggressive” suitors for), the Pirates have been linked to the names of a bunch of other pitches in the past few days. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has mentioned that they’re interested in both Jeff Francis and Brandon Webb, while John Perrotto connected them to Jeremy Bonderman last week (subscriber link). All three have suffered shoulder injuries in the last couple seasons. Webb’s has kept him out since Opening Day 2009, Francis’s kept him out for all of 2009 and a big chunk of this year, and Bonderman’s kept him out for most of 2009 and may have contributed to his limited effectiveness in 2010.
Obviously none of these pitchers are anywhere near a sure thing to return to their prior form in 2011, but they’re all reasonably young (Francis will be 30, Webb will be 32, Bonderman will be 28) and talented guys that could help the Pirates’ rotation quite a bit if they were to be healthy in 2011. Any one of them would be a risk, obviously, but I’d almost prefer the Pirates try this route to upgrade their rotation for 2011 to the de la Rosa route if they’re reasonably sure any one of the trio is healthy, if only because none of them are looking for anything more than a shot to pitch in a Major League rotation and prove to people that they’re still capable of it.