Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: Outfielder Jarrod Dyson

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 07: Jarrod Dyson #1 of the Arizona Diamondbacks tosses his bat after striking out with the bases loaded during the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 07, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 07: Jarrod Dyson #1 of the Arizona Diamondbacks tosses his bat after striking out with the bases loaded during the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 07, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images) /
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Could a speedy veteran outfielder be a free agent target for the Pittsburgh Pirates?

It’s all but certain that Starling Marte will not be the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2020 Opening Day centerfielder. But when Marte is eventually traded off, the Pirates do not have a direct replacement.

Sure Bryan Reynolds could shift from left to center, and make it easier to find a replacement in left, but Reynolds is probably best suited in left. Plus, the Pirates ranked 23/30 by Fangraphs defensive rating at -22.1, so they need someone who can handle CF at an above average level.

While I have read that Kevin Pillar could be a possible target, I do not see him as good of a fit as former Kansas City Royals defensive standout, Jarrod Dyson.

Dyson doesn’t really stand out with the bat. He had a .230/.313/.320 line, and a 66 OPS+ in 452 PA’s during 2019. But his value comes with his fielding. At one point, Kevin Pillar was a great defender, but last year he had -2 DRS, and a .3 UZR. His once cannon arm was worth -5.7 outs above average.

Dyson on the other hand put up elite level numbers yet again. Last year, Dyson had +13 DRS and a +7.9 UZR. His DRS ranked 8th among all outfielders. His arm was the complete opposite of Pillar’s, having a 5.7 outs above average. On the basepaths, he swiped 30 bases and had an 8.9 base running rating on Fangraphs.

However, what Dyson does that makes him standout is his ability to walk. To me, that is more valuable than Pillar’s .432 slugging and career high 21 home runs in 2019. Sure, Pillar didn’t have any favors going for him. He played nearly half of his games in a cavernous Oracle Park, which gave up the least amount of home runs per game on average in 2019. But with a 28.4 feet/second sprint speed, having a good walk rate basically weaponizes speed.

In comparison to other speed and defense only kind of players Dyson is in a league of his own. In the past two seasons the lefty-swinging speedster has a 10.7% walk rate. Billy Hamilton, a similar player in terms of skill set to Dyson, had a 9.1% walk rate in ‘19. Rookie Victor Robles had a 5.7% walk rate last season. Jake Marisnick had a 5.3% walk rate in 2019.

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Dyson would best fit the Pirates for 2020. He has the ability to draw walks, steal bags, and play elite defense. The Pirates as a team increased their batting average with RISP from .254 in 2018, to .265 in 2019. If the Bucs can keep up a similar level of production with RISP with Dyson on the team, not only will they increase the amount of runs they score, but they will simultaneously make their defense better in the process.

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