Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Potential DFA Candidates To Monitor

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Sep 20, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds left fielder Aristides Aquino (44) runs after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

There are a handful of players who could be designated for assignment by the end of Spring Training. Here are three that the Pittsburgh Pirates should be monitoring.

At the end of every Spring Training, there’s a handful of players who get designated for assignment and exposed to waivers because they are out of options. Just like any Spring Training season, we’ll see many different players get put on waivers.

This could give the Pittsburgh Pirates an opportunity to add some affordable depth to the roster and a potential chance to find a diamond in the rough. So let’s take a look at three players who are out of options that could end up on the Pirates’ radar.

Outfielder Aristides Aquino

Aristides Aquino looked outstanding in his first taste of big league action. Through his first 225 plate appearances, Aquino put up a .259/.316/.576 line with a .360 wOBA and 119 wRC+. However, what was more impressive was his power output. He slammed 19 home runs. He reached 14 through his first 28 games, which set a record for the fastest player to reach that total in their career.

Overall, Aquino had a .317 isolated slugging percentage, but power wasn’t his only ability. Aquino had +1.6 base running runs above average and 28.7 feet/second sprint speed which was ranked as the 86th fastest player in baseball. Fielding wise, he was about average with +3 DRS and +4 outs above average, but -4.4 UZR/150 and -0.1 range runs above average.

Aquino also absolutely mashed at Triple-A. Through 323 plate appearances, Aquino posted an outstanding .299/.354/.636 line, had a .408 wOBA, all coming to a 144 wRC+. Aquino showed he could demolish the baseball cranking out 28 home runs in less than 80 games while having an isolated slugging percentage well above .300 at .321.

Now regression was expected going into his 2020 season. Aquino only was able to put up an exit velocity of 87.9 MPH and he cooled off quite a bit throughout September after his scorching hot start. He also had just a .341 xwOBA. However, Aquino would only go on to collect 76 plate appearances in 2020 while having a .285 wOBA and 73 wRC+.

Right now, the Reds have an overcrowded outfield as is. Currently, Jesse Winker, Shogo Akiyama, Nick Senzel and Nick Castellanos are all vying for regular playing time. The only way that Aquino gets more than a 4th outfielder role is if the DH returns, Winker and Castellanos share time at DH and a corner outfield spot and Senzel gets moved back to shortstop, which is a large hole for the Reds currently.

There’s a better chance he gets more playing time with the Pittsburgh Pirates than in Cincinnati. Currently, he could slot into left field and push Bryan Reynolds to centerfield where there are a handful of different players competing for playing time. Aquino could also provide help in right field given Gregory Polanco’s inconsistent health.

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