Which Free Agent Center Fielders Could the Pittsburgh Pirates Still Pursue?


With Spring Training set to kick off this week the Pittsburgh Pirates are still in the market for help in center field. Who is still available for them to pursue on the free agent market?

After an off-season of speculation, on January 27th, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally pulled the trigger on a Starling Marte trade. With general manager Ben Cherington sending Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks, it created a hole in center field for the Pirates. A hole that Cherington has said he plans to address before Opening Day.

On Monday, pitchers and catchers will report to Bradenton. With that, Spring Training 2020 will kick off for the Pirates this week. Despite Spring Training being right around the corner, the Pirates still do not have a center fielder. Who could the team still look to pursue in free agency?

The top choice of many Pirate fans, myself included, is Kevin Pillar. The 31-year-old Pillar is a seven-year MLB veteran, with ties to Cherington. Pillar spent the first six seasons of his career in Toronto, the last two of which overlapped with Cherington’s time in their front office.

Last season, Pillar was a member of the San Francisco Giants. With the Giants, Pillar slashed .259/.287/.432 to go with a 85 wRC+, .173 ISO, and 21 home runs. His home runs were a new career high and his ISO was the second highest number of his career. Factor in the plus defense he is known for, and his 2019 fWAR was 1.5.

While Pillar struggles to get on base, he does bring plus power to the table with a lifetime .145 ISO. Also, his defense is among the best center fielders in baseball.

Another name that has been connected to the Pirates is Cameron Maybin. There was a time when Maybin was one of the top prospects in all of baseball. While he has not lived up to his bill as a prospect, he has put together a successful 13-year MLB career.

Maybin has slashed .256/.324/.376 with a 94 wRC+, .120 ISO, and a 14.9 fWAR in his 13-year career. With the New York Yankees in 2019, Maybin had one of the best offensive seasons of his career. His .494 slugging percentage, 127 wRC+, and .209 ISO were all career highs for a full MLB season. While his defense has slumped, his 1.6 fWAR was still his best since 2016.

Another player that is still on the market is Jarrod Dyson. Unlike Pillar and Maybin, Dyson is a left-handed hitter. Also unlike the other two, Dyson hits for zero power owning a lifetime .338 slugging percentage and an .091 ISO in 2,618 plate appearances.

Dyson, however, is a plus defender with plus speed. He owns a lifetime 59.8 dWAR, and has stolen 250 bases. Last season, he stole 30 bases giving him seven seasons with at least 26 stolen bases, and five with at least 30.

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The Pirates had also been connected to long time nemesis Billy Hamilton. However, as Nick covered on the site on Saturday, Hamilton is off the table after signing with the San Francisco Giants.