A former five-time MLB All-Star could help the Pirates solve their outfield needs via free agency this offseason
Free agency is underway in Major League Baseball. While, in typical fashion, the market has been slow thus far that will change soon. In a little over two weeks at the MLB Winter Meetings free agency will pick up, and this includes the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates have already been active in free agency, signing Jung Ho Kang to a new 1-year contract earlier in the month. However, the team now needs to address other positions of need in free agency. This includes finding an outfielder that can play in place of Gregory Polanco until he returns from injury before transitioning to a fourth outfielder/extra starter role.
A potential fit for the Pirates in this role could be veteran Adam Jones. The 33-year-old Jones is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and a former Gold Glover. However, after a down 2018 season Jones is looking to bounce back.
The Pirates could present Jones with an opportunity to sign a 1-year contract, bounce back, and improve his value. Jones slashed .281/.313/.419 in 2018 with a .315 wOBA, .138 ISO, and a 98 wRC+ in 2018. This came after entering 2018 with a lifetime slash of .278/.318/.460, a .338 wOBA, .183 ISO, and a 108 wRC+.
The longtime Oriole is now looking for a new home. After play center field for most of his career, Jones played some right field in 2018. This makes Jones even more of a fit for the Pirates as their need until Polanco returns is in right field.
Despite his offense dipping some in 2018, there is still reason to buy some stock in Jones. His 31.4% hard contact rate was his highest since 2014, as was his 88.0 mph exit velocity. So, poor contact was not an issue for Jones in 2018. Additionally, his 15.2% strikeout rate was the lowest of his career.
While Jones may be pricier than some of the other potential free agent outfielders we have looked at, he would be the best fit of them all. Along with his on field ability, Jones would bring valuable veteran leadership and postseason experience. This would make Jones one of the team’s clubhouse leaders, too.