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The 27-year-old was designated off the 40-man to clear a roster spot for Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang, who signed a four-year, $11 million deal with the Pirates earlier this offseason. Kang, who is already working out in Arizona ahead of Spring Training next month, is widely expected to man multiple positions for Pittsburgh in 2014.
Meanwhile, the up-and-down story continues for Elmore, who spent part of last season with the Cincinnati Reds – appearing in five big league games, collecting two hits in 11 at-bats. He also played with the Oakland Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate, slashing a respectable .282/.374/.365 in 47 games – a sign that he may be on the cusp of being able to contribute for a Major League club.
Those numbers are largely in-line for his career Minor League statistics. Over seven seasons with various big league affiliates, Elmore is a .290 hitter – including a .313 mark in 250 games at the Triple-A level with the Athletics, Reds, Astros and Diamondbacks’ affiliates.
For Pittsburgh, it’s a disappointing loss given Elmore’s upside – although he could always make his way back to PNC Park. The former 34th-round pick has seen time at multiple infield positions, including second and third base, as well as shortstop. His upside at the dish is also enticing – but clearing a 40-man slot for Kang had to be the priority for general manager Neal Huntington and his front office team.
During 87 games at the Major League level over the course of the last three seasons, Elmore has failed to figure things out at the plate, struggling to a .221/.288/.291 line – striking out 30 times in 221 plate appearances – as well as drawing 19 base-on-balls.
For now, one journey ends for this still-promising infield talent. However, it shouldn’t take long for him to earn another chance with the Pirates should the team’s infield depth show issues this season. Keep an eye out for Elmore in 2015 as he looks to latch on once again at the big league level with the Pirates.