The Pittsburgh Pirates signed a fourth outfielder in 2019 who did not play a single inning for them. That player has officially announced his retirement.
One of the lasting, embarrassing marks that the Pittsburgh Pirates previous regime left was the curious case of Lonnie Chisenhall. Last offseason, Neal Huntington signed the former Cleveland Indian to a one year deal worth $2.75 million. He was a buy-low player who the Pittsburgh Pirates hoped would bounce back after an injury-plagued 2018.
The hope was that he would fill in playing right-field while Gregory Polanco worked back from shoulder surgery. Instead, the Pittsburgh Pirates never saw Lonnie Chisenhall appear in a regular-season game. He played some during spring training, but was broke his finger late that spring and then suffered another injury during his rehab.
However, Chisenhall went off the grid. Apparently he took time away from the organization as he worked to get back. When it came time for him to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates, or at least when he was expected to return, he did not. By midseason, it was deemed very unlikely that Chisenhall would ever play for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. It was operation shut down 2.0, bringing back memories of Derek Bell.
It really seems like Chisenhall played this out in a similar fashion. He showed up after signing a contract and realized that he did not want to play baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He became a free agent once again this offseason.
No one signed him, which should not be surprising after how things have played out over the last year. A 31-year-old who has played just 29 games over the last two seasons probably is not all that enticing for teams, so Chisenhall has decided to officially retire from the MLB.
In the long run, it kind of worked out for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Chisenhall has always been a solid player when healthy. His left-handed bat projected well at PNC Park, but by no means was he ever considered more than a potential rental trade deadline chip. Instead, the Pittsburgh Pirates ended up being relatively thin in terms of outfield depth.
This allowed Bryan Reynolds to get an opportunity much sooner than anticipated. Obviously, this worked out and Reynolds went on to have one of the best rookie campaigns ever by a Pittsburgh Pirates player. Meanwhile, Chisenhall will go down as another head-scratching story in Pittsburgh Pirates history.