As a new week begins, we continue to work our way closer to the start of Spring Training 2018 for the Pittsburgh Pirates
The past two seasons number 23 has belonged to David Freese on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ roster. 2018, however, is shaping up to be a season that will be much different from past ones for David Freese.
With Jung Ho Kang still on the shelf due to the leg injury he suffered in September of 2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed third baseman David Freese to a 1-year contract during Spring Training 2016.
After getting off to a hot start in 2016, his willingness to learn and play first base, and him taking a veteran leadership role in the Pirates clubhouse, Freese would earn a new 2-year contract with the Pirates during the summer of 2016. This contract paid Freese $6.25 million in 2017 and has him set to earn $4.75 million this upcoming season.
After Kang was unable to obtain a work visa and therefore missed the entire 2017, Freese was the team’s primary third baseman in 2017. While Freese can still handle the hot corner defensively (+8 DRS, 3.9 dWAR, and .960 fielding percentage in 2017) he is no longer enough of an offensive threat to play on a daily basis.
This was evident by Freese posting a career-low .108 ISO, .371 slugging percentage, and 100 wRC+ in 2017. However, he did a good job of adjusting his approach at the plate to post a career-high 11.5 percent walk rate and a .368 on-base percentage which was the second best of his nine-year Major League career.
David Freese has played a combined 272 games the past two seasons, and he has played at least 121 games each of the past six seasons. All signs point toward this changing in 2018, though. Josh Bell is the Pirates’ first baseman and the newly acquired Colin Moran is viewed as the third baseman of the future and will get the lion’s share of the starts at third base in 2018. This leaves Freese without a starting position and would seem to have him pegged for a bench role in 2018.
For this reason, it would not be a surprise if the Pirates would look to trade Freese to a team that is in need of third base help in 2018. While Freese is a veteran leader that would understand the situation and would most likely not mind having a lessened role, with the Pirates not having a need for Freese in 2018 it may be in their best interest to float him on the trade market to see if they could net anything in return for the now 34-year-old ex-World Series MVP.
We are now just 23 days away from the first Spring Training workout for the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates. And 2018 will be a much different season for number 23 David Freese than past years have been.