As the 2017 season continues to near the Pittsburgh Pirates are pretty set in terms of position players. However, one possible question mark is the team’s fourth outfielder.
Entering this offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates did not have very many needs. The team needed to add a bullpen arm, a pair of starting pitchers, and backup shortstop. Thus far, they have done a good job of addressing these needs.
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Daniel Hudson to a two year contract to add the team’s needed relief pitcher. The Bucs also re-signed Ivan Nova to a three year contract to be one of the two starting pitchers they needed.
The Pittsburgh Pirates still need to add another starting pitcher and address backup shortstop this offseason. However, there is also one under-the-radar position that may need addressed. And that is the team’s fourth outfielder.
Internally, the Pirates have one main option. This main option is super utility man Adam Frazier. The problem with Frazier is that he is a bad defensive outfielder. Frazier finished the 2016 season with -2 defensive runs saved as an outfielder. And his outfield routes left a lot to be desired.
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Right now, the Pirates’ bench for 2017 appears to have four locks. These four players are they aforementioned Adam Frazier, Chris Stewart, David Freese, and John Jaso. However, other than Frazier, none of these players can play the outfield.
The Pirates due have some options at the Triple-A level for the fourth outfielder position. The main option would be Willy Garcia. However, Garcia has yet to experience Major League action which works against him.
Additionally, with the Pirates still needing a backup shortstop this limits their options for their fourth outfielder. Due to this, Adam Frazier would appear to have an inside track to being the team’s fourth outfielder. The one thing that could probably happen to change this would be the Pirates trading John Jaso. However, I do not think a trade of Jaso is likely.
One area the Pirates are in luck is the position flexibility of Josh Harrison. When an outfielder needs a night off, Clint Hurdle could always play Josh Harrison in the outfield with Adam Frazier at second base.
Now, things could change if the Pirates were to trade Josh Harrison. This offseason, the Pirates have been shopping Harrison. Additionally, I would like to see the Pirates move him to get his albatross of a contract off the books.
If Josh Harrison were to be traded, then either Adam Frazier or Alen Hanson would become the team’s starting second baseman. This could, potentially, free up a roster spot for the Pirates to add a true fourth outfielder. That said, I am not sure I like this idea.
Personally, I value positional flexibility. And I know Clint Hurdle does as well. Due to this, I would rather see the Pirates use a super utility man such as Adam Frazier as the team’s fourth outfielder in 2017.
Despite his defensive struggles in the outfield, I hope the Pirates go with Adam Frazier as the team’s fourth outfielder in 2017. Barring injury, Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, and Starling Marte will all start at least 150 games in 2017. And if injury occurs, the Pirates will have to promote an outfielder from the Minor Leagues anyway.