Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Low Risk, High Reward Free Agent Options

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 3: David Robertson #30 of the New York Yankees pitches during the game against the Oakland Athletics in the American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium on October 3, 2018 New York, New York. The Yankees defeated the Athletics 7-2. Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 3: David Robertson #30 of the New York Yankees pitches during the game against the Oakland Athletics in the American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium on October 3, 2018 New York, New York. The Yankees defeated the Athletics 7-2. Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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Aug 29, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo hits a sacrifice fly during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 29, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo hits a sacrifice fly during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo

The Pittsburgh Pirates have recently been connected to Korean left fielder Shin-Soo Choo. Choo was a pretty productive hitter in 2018 and 2019. Through 1325 plate appearances, Choo hit .264/.374/.444 with 45 home runs, a .354 wOBA and 114 wRC+. Choo has always been an on base machine as he walked 12.8% of the time between these two years and his OBP ranked 21st out of the 183 total batters who collected at least 800 plate appearances between the two seasons. Despite his advancing age, he still swiped 21 bases and only got caught twice.

Choo struggled throughout most of 2020. He only appeared in 33 games and collected 110 plate appearances as a right hand sprain kept him out most of September. All told, he only batted .236/.323/.400 with a 97 wRC+.

Despite his struggles, there’s a decent chance he could rebound in 2021. Choo still had an above average mark in expected batting average at .251 and expected slugging percentage at .454. His xwOBA sat at .324, which was above average, compared to his .304 actual wOBA. Choo also had a 90 MPH exit velocity mark. Choo did get a bit unlucky with a .284 batting average on balls in play compared to his career mark of .336.

Choo has never been a great defensive outfielder and it’s only gotten worse with his age. In the last three seasons, he has -24 DRS, -10.6 UZR/150 and -2.2 range runs above average. However, it seems the lefty slugger is open to seeing some time at first base and the Pittsburgh Pirates have guys like Anthony Alford and Jared Oliva on hand as potential late-inning defensive replacements if he absolutely needs it.