Jun 20, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Travis Snider (23) during batting practice before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Baltimore Orioles won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Travis Snider as you all know, played for the Pirates from 2012-2014 and was traded in the offseason to the Orioles for Steven Brault and Stephen Tarpley. He played in 69 games for the Orioles and slashed .237/.318/.341/.659 before being designated for assignment and eventually given his outright release.
The moment he was officially released, there were rumors of his return to Pittsburgh and it appears those rumors were correct. The minor league deal gives the Pirates some flexibility about what to do right away with Snider. They could stash him in the minors until rosters expand in September and bring him up without having to make any roster moves, since most of the players currently on the bench do not have any minor league options. They will not have to DFA Travis Ishiawaka, Pedro Florimon or Sean Rodriguez to make room for Snider. This is especially vital since they will likely have to make some moves soon with the return of Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison on the horizon.
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At the time of the trade many Pirates’ fans were very angry and called the deal a salary dump, but with the success of Brault and Tarpley in the minors and now Snider back in the organization, it is clear that Neal Huntington completely hosed the Orioles. He got two legitimate LHP prospects for essentially nothing. Anyway you slice it, that is a huge win for the Pirates.
Snider wasn’t particularly effective in a starting role for the Orioles, but could potentially benefit as a pinch hitter/spot starter. With the success of Gregory Polanco against both right and left handed pitching, Snider will not be a platoon outfielder and will basically just be a spare piece come September. However, if he returns to his 2014 form as a pinch hitter, he could be a weapon in late game situations.
Travis Snider was a hugely popular player among his teammates during his time here and I imagine it won’t take any time for him to fit right in with the 2015 Pirates when he makes his return to the active roster. Lunchbox Hero was also somewhat a folk hero with fans, especially in the second half of 2014, so I will not be surprised if he is cheered wildly upon his return to PNC Park. His return gives the Pirates some roster flexibility and should prove to cynical fans that Neal Huntington is a ridiculously crafty GM. Not only do we have Brault and Tarpley, but we have Brad Lincoln in the system as well. Lincoln coincidentally enough was the player sent to Toronto that landed us Travis Snider in the first place. 2015 truly is the year of ex-Pirates rejoining the organization. I wonder what Jack Wilson is up to these days?