To the delight of many nostalgic Pirates’ fans, Travis Snider is now back on the market. The Baltimore Orioles designated Snider for assignment back on August 7th, and then released him a few days ago after he cleared waivers. His $2.1 million salary was probably a deterrent to some teams considering his lack of production this season. Snider has one year of control left according to MLB Trade Rumors, so he could be used a depth outfielder for next season. Should the Pirates try to improve their bench by adding Snider?
Honestly, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. No, Snider’s stats aren’t great this season. His line of .237/.318/.341 doesn’t excite anyone, but his OPS of .659 isn’t horrible for a bench bat. And that’s what Snider would be: a bench bat. He wouldn’t platoon with anyone now that Gregory Polanco has officially locked down the starting right field position. But he would be a decent bench bat and late-inning pinch hitter. Snider only got eight pinch-hit opportunities with the Orioles this season, but we know how well he did with the Pirates last year in that role. Anybody that has the kind of power potential that Snider has is useful in a late-inning pinch hit role.
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A change of scenery back to the city that resurrected his career would be huge for Snider. We all remember how well he did offensively to end last season, and we know how much emotion he brought to the team every day. He was often one of the liveliest characters in the dugout, and a return to a team in a pennant race in a role that he knows well could mean more confidence for Snider, which could, in turn, lead to better performance. He wouldn’t be relied upon to start often and he wouldn’t have to worry about his defense as much, so he would only have to focus on two things: pinch-hitting and maybe spelling Polanco once in a while down the stretch.
When deciding if the Pirates should add Snider, the main factor you have to evaluate is whether he’d be better than the player he would be replacing. Jordy Mercer would more than likely replace Pedro Florimon when he returns from the disabled list, and Josh Harrison would replace either Sean Rodriguez or Travis Ishikawa when he returns. A lot depends on who Harrison replaces and whether Harrison is put back into a starting role at third base or if Aramis Ramirez is left there and Harrison is relegated to a utility role. If it’s the latter, I think Harrison replaces Rodriguez. Then, would you rather have Snider or Ishikawa? Based on this season, give me Snider. He’s been better offensively, he’s also a lefty, and he has more power than Ishikawa.
But that’d also mean one less player that can play first base on the roster, at least until rosters expand on September 1st. In the end, it will be a complicated situation to get Travis Snider involved somewhere on the Buccos’ team at the moment. But we know he’s been slightly better than Ishikawa, and we know what he did last year. And he’s a free agent now that he’s been released, so he wouldn’t cost anything but a little bit of money. Personally, I’d love to see Snider back as a bench bat. What can it hurt?