The Pirates’ struggles to produce from the RF position this season are well documented. Pirates RF have the lowest combined OPS in the majors at this point in the season, a position usually reserved for power hitters and run producers. The Travis Snider experiment clearly is not working out, and Garrett Jones still looks like Hellen Keller at a piñata party against lefties. The solution? The Pirates should trade for Cubs RF Nate Schierholtz.
The Cubs are clearly willing to sell. He is affordable and a low-risk investment. He will be arbitration eligible after the 2014 season and a free-agent in 2015 and is projected to make around $4.2 million after arbitration, so the Pirates would be acquiring a cheap, productive outfielder for longer than just a few months. Schierholtz has posted a .278/.339/.530 triple-slash this season, which would easily be the best out of any RF if he were to join the Pirates. He hits, gets on base, and has a career high 14 homeruns already this season. The guy is red-hot and is not too much of a defensive liability (no more than Jones). It also appears that the Pirates are genuinely interested, according to multiple sources:
Schierholtz is a lefty who would be a perfect fit for PNC Park and the Clemente Wall. He is a career .274 hitter against lefties, four points better than his .270 mark against righties, meaning he could platoon nicely with Jones (and eliminate Snider from the equation). A lot of people may argue that the offense shouldn’t be messed with at all. Why change a team that is winning? Another pro of a Schierholtz trade: he wouldn’t be an every day starter. His bat would add World Series experience to a bench that, at the moment, doesn’t scare many teams. His acquisition wouldn’t disrupt the “ebb and flow” of the offense, if you buy into that sort of thing.
The Cubs likely won’t ask for too much in exchange for Schierholtz. Pirates Prospects speculated he is worth a grade B hitting prospect. The Pirates could probably throw in some cash considerations to sweeten the pot as well, but either way it’s a low-risk-high-reward trade scenario. Trading for Stanton or Rios may be the popular and flashy move, but their asking prices are far too high. Trading for Schierholtz won’t require moving a major prospect like Polanco or Taillon.
If you still aren’t convinced Schierholtz is a good trade candidate for the Pirates, take solace in the fact that there are no Chad Qualls (remember this guy!? What a terrible trade!) rumors surfacing.