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Pirates owner ready to buy at deadline, 'take advantage of opportunities'

Justin Berl / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting is ready to see his team make a push for October.

Nutting hinted Friday that the Pirates, who last made the playoffs in 2015, are already pursuing roster upgrades six weeks ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

"I'm not at all sure that we won't have opportunities well in advance of the deadline," Nutting told reporters, according to Noah Hiles of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I think we should be prepared to move early. I think we should be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. I know (general manager Ben Cherington) has that flexibility to look across a broader range of alternatives, options but also a timeline of when it makes sense to strike."

The Pirates entered Friday sitting two games below .500 but just a half-game out of the final National League wild-card spot in a very crowded Senior Circuit race. Pittsburgh's tied with two other clubs (the New York Mets and Washington Nationals) at 36-38, with another three teams sitting 1 1/2 games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres.

Starting pitching has driven Pittsburgh's resurgence this year. Rookies Paul Skenes and Jared Jones have broken out behind Mitch Keller to give the team a talented young trio atop the rotation.

The big issue for manager Derek Shelton's club is at the plate, as the Pirates own the majors' third-worst offense and fourth-worst wRC+. Only four of the club's regular players have an OPS above .700, while only Bryan Reynolds and Andrew McCutchen entered Friday with double-digit home runs.

However, Nutting said pitching is influencing him to make a move this summer and increase the league's second-lowest payroll. The owner added he believes the team has earned the opportunity to take a shot at the playoffs.

"I think we've shown it's attainable," Nutting said of the postseason. "I think you look at the results we've had from the mound, the pitching has been solid. We have some very strong pitchers performing well. Obviously, we need more offense. We're a bottom-performing team in offensive production. You all know that as much as I do. ... How much of it comes from within the organization and outside the organization is exactly what Ben is working on."

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