Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Daniel Nava

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 05: Daniel Nava
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 05: Daniel Nava /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates added veteran outfielder Daniel Nava on a minor league contract.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported earlier today that the Pittsburgh Pirates and Daniel Nava have come to a deal on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training:

Nava, who will be 35 years old next season, is coming off a year in which he hit .301/.393/.421 with a 119 wRC+.  He had a strong 12.1 percent walk rate (non pitcher league average was 8.7 percent) and a 17.8 percent strikeout rate (non pitcher league average was 21.2 percent).  Nava didn’t provide much power, with the league average slugging percentage being .433.  His .120 isolated power was also below the .175 league average.

The big thing is that Nava is a natural outfielder, with 16 career runs saved in 3,598.2 innings.  He has spent time in both corners (1,286.1 innings in right and 2304.1 innings in left), and he has a career 267.1 innings at first base.  Last season, the Pirates attempted to play Jose Osuna and John Jaso in the outfield, both providing below average value, so Nava is an upgrade defensively if he makes the team out of camp.

Despite his strong age 34 season, there are concerns with Nava.  In 2015, he had a -0.2 fWAR and 64 wRC+ in 60 games, and in 2015 he had a -0.4 fWAR and a wRC+ of 65 in 54 games.  When the Pirates signed Matt Joyce in 2016, he was coming off a -1.4 fWAR and 60 wRC+ season, but he was a consistent 110+ wRC+ and near 2.0 win player the previous three seasons, and was a power threat.  Nava, on the other hand, has had only one good season of the last three and is projected for a wRC+ of 80 and 0.0 WAR in 244 plate appearances by ZiPS.

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The Pirates have an opening for an outfielder, one in which Carlos Gonzalez would be the perfect fit.  Nava doesn’t necessarily fill the gap, but he will challenge for a position during spring training.  If he does make the team, Nava will likely platoon with either Jordan Luplow or Sean Rodriguez, though Adam Frazier is likely a better option at this point.

*Numbers from fangraphs

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