Recently, the rival Cincinnati Reds designated an outfielder for assignment who could help the Pittsburgh Pirates after losing Gregory Polanco to COVID-19
The Pittsburgh Pirates recently lost right fielder Gregory Polanco after testing positive for COVID-19. This left the team without a really good answer in right field. Polanco was set to play a large role for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2020, but how long he’ll be out is uncertain.
There is no reason to rush a prospect like Jared Oliva or Travis Swaggerty right now, so the Pittsburgh Pirates are left with patchwork options in right field that consist of Socrate Brito, Guillermo Heredia and Jason Martin. While Adam Frazier could be the primary right fielder for now, the overall outfield depth in general isn’t too inspiring.
However, the rival Cincinnati Reds just designated a fairly notable outfielder for assignment, that being slugger Scott Schebler. He could be a solid back-up option in case Polanco is out longer than expected.
Schebler was once a notable prospect who went to the Reds in the three team trade that sent Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox. Schebler had a solid 2016 rookie campaign where he batted .265/.330/.432 with a 101 OPS+ through 282 plate appearances, but he truly broke out in 2017.
In his first full season of playing time, Schebler hit .233/.307/.484 through 531 plate appearances, having a 102 OPS+, 98 wRC+, and .330 wOBA in the process. Schebler showed some really impressive power, hitting 30 home runs and 25 doubles, to go with a .252 isoated slugging percentage. His ISO actually was one of the best in baseball, ranking 21st and ahead of notable names like Edwin Encarnacion and Kris Bryant. The one weakness to Schebler’s game was his plate discipline. He was pretty much an all-or-nothing type of hitter in 2017. He walked just 7.3% of the time and struck out 23.5%.
The following season, Schebler saw his plate discipline take a decent leap forward, now walking 9.1% of the time, while having a .255/.337/.439 line. However, Schebler saw his power take a hit. He had just 17 home runs, and a .184 isolated slugging percentage. Part of that might have been due to injury as sprained shoulder kept him out for a little over a month between July and August. Still, he had a 107 OPS+ and 108 wRC+.
Last year, however, Schebler’s stock took a serious hit. The slugger only appeared in 30 games at the start of the season, hitting just .123/.253/.222 through 95 plate appearances. While he was walking at an extremely good rate of 14.7%, Schebler was eventually optioned to the minors. He didn’t bat much better at Triple-A, either. Through an injury limited 212 plate appearances, Schebler had a .216/.274/.325 line, and an astoundingly low 50 wRC+.
Not only is Schebler coming off the worst year of his career, but the Reds have all but moved on from the former prospect. With the off season signing of Nick Castellanos, and Japaneese star Shogo Akiyama to go with Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino, Nick Senzel and two-way player Michael Lorenzen, Schebler became the odd man out on the Reds’ depth chart.
Defensively, Scott has experience at all three outfield positions. But most of his innings have come from right field. Overall, he isn’t anything worth writing home about, but isn’t going to be a complete butcher. In right, Schebler has a +2 DRS and +2.2 outfield arm runs above average, but a -3.7 range runs, and -3.1 UZR/150. He also isn’t an awful base runner either with a 27.4 foot/second sprint speed and a career 0.8 base running runs above average mark.
Schebler could be a nice low risk, high reward type of player. The Pittsburgh Pirates likely wouldn’t have to give up all that much, if anything to acquire the slugger. After all, he hit 30 home runs and had a top 25 isolated slugging percentage not that long ago.