Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Team Looking at Free Agent Outfielders
After the Pittsburgh Pirates most recent trade with the Diamondbacks, they made it known they are seeking a new outfielder. It looks like there are some free agents in play.
Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded away starting centerfielder Starling Marte. Marte has been a key contributor for the Pirates since 2012 and will not be easily replaced. However, Ben Cherington made it known that the team is most definitely looking to bring in a replacement in the outfield to help patch the outfield up for the 2020 season.
The question over the last few days has been whether or not the team will trade for an outfielder or sign one in free agency. It seems like they may be looking at the free agent market for that replacement. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, there are three centerfield options that the Bucs are showing interest in signing. Here is what Heyman tweeted:
Of the three, Kevin Pillar makes the most sense for the Pirates, although all three players are similar to a certain extent. They all are defensive first and have above-average speed. Hamilton is definitely the fastest, but likely the weakest hitter. Meanwhile, Maybin enjoyed a bit of a resurgence last year with the Yankees and would likely provide the most power. All three would likely do a nice job of at least replacing Marte’s ability in the field and on the base paths.
Hamilton is well known to Pirates fans. He spent years tormenting the Pirates by making spectacular running plays in the outfield, chasing down balls that would otherwise be extra-base hits, and of course swiping bags on the base paths. Still, he is career .242 hitter, gets on-base at a clip less than .300, and has a putrid slugging percentage at .275. Last year, he played for the Royals and Braves and only hit .218 across his 119 games played. Of all the options, Hamilton should be the last choice on this list.
Maybin, meanwhile, had a really nice season last year and received a lot more playing time than expected for the New York Yankees. In 82 games with the Bombers, Maybin slashed a strong .285/.364/.494, easily surpassing his career numbers. Furthermore, he hit a carer high 11 home runs while stealing nine bases. The reason he is still a free agent is that these numbers are much better than his career numbers, so teams may view 2019 as an outlier. Still, if the Pirates sign him and see him put up strong numbers then they will have a valuable asset on their hands.
The last player to talk about is Pillar. Pillar was traded at the beginning of the 2019 season from the Toronto Blue Jays to the San Francisco Giants. He is known for his outstanding glovework and highlight real plays and has been a Gold Glove finalist multiple times. The issue with Pillar is he also does not bring much in terms of offense. Last year he hit .259/.287/.432 with only 18 walks in 156 games. Still, he hit 21 home runs and stole 14 bases. Pillar brings enough elements to his game that he would be worth signing.
Of the three, Pillar makes the most sense for the Pirates. His game is better suited for the National League with his speed and defense but also brings some pop to the lineup. Also, he was a part of the Toronto Blue Jays organization for years and likely has an established relationship with Ben Cherington and assistant General Manager Steve Sanders. If not Pillar, then Maybin would be the next best option with Hamilton rounding out the list.