Pittsburgh Pirates: A Look Back at the David Freese Trade

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates made a last-minute trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  How has the deal looked on the Bucs side of things?

The Pittsburgh Pirates took advantage of last year’s waiver trade deadline.  Late last year on August 31st, it was announced that the Pittsburgh Pirates traded third/first baseman David Freese to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The move was expected, as David Freese had an option for the 2019 season and the Bucs were able to save a little bit of cash.

Coming back in the trade was a somewhat unheralded, but young prospect by the name of Jesus Valdez.  Valdez was signed out of the Dominican Republic as a shortstop, but he has also spent time at third and second as well.  At the time of the deal, Valdez was a 20-year-old who was playing his first professional season; hitting for a mediocre batting average of .230.

However, he did get on base at a .343 clip along with a .412 slugging.  Furthermore, he only struck out 48 times in 60 games and walked 28 times.  While his batting average was low and he was already 20 with no professional experience, it seemed like the Bucs got a real lottery ticket.  One can see why the Bucs were interested in him with intriguing peripheral numbers.

Well, so far this year it looks like the Bucs were absolutely right to target the 6-foot right-handed hitter.  Valdez has played this season at Short-Season A Bristol.  While he is about a half-year older than the league average, he still lacks the same amount of experience as many of those prospects.

This has not mattered for the now 21-year-old as he has been lighting it up this season.  Through 43 games so far, the right-hander has slashed .309/.400/.455.  His on-base percentage is a start to focus on here, an outstanding .400 clip.  However, it also helps validate his strong on-base percentage last season (despite a much lower batting average).

This is because he is once again showing strong plate discipline, striking out 32 times in 43 games. Meanwhile, he has walked 17 times and has swiped four bags on four tries.  Beyond his on-base percentage, it is also encouraging to see his slugging percentage at .466, 54 points higher than last year.  His isolated power rates slightly above average at .145 and he has posted a solid 137 wRC+.

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The fact that Jesus Valdez already looks like a disciplined hitter with above-average pop is very encouraging.  Yes, he is a little old for Short-Season A Bristol, but he just started playing professional baseball last year. He is showing traits that the Pittsburgh Pirates want to see from their prospects.  Hopefully, he continues to do these things and move up the ladder quickly.