Pittsburgh Pirates: Four Notable Players in DFA Limbo

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 10: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Cole Tucker #3 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 10, 2021 in New York City. The Pirates defeated the Mets 6-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 10: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Cole Tucker #3 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 10, 2021 in New York City. The Pirates defeated the Mets 6-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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NEW YORK, NY – JULY 9: Jared Oliva #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the dugout before taking on the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 9, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 9: Jared Oliva #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the dugout before taking on the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 9, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

Jared Oliva

Outfielder Jared Oliva was formerly one of the Pirates’ more notable prospects. However with the likes of Canaan Smith-Njigba, Jack Suwinski, and Travis Swaggerty in the system, along with the emergence of Matthew Fraizer, and other outfield capable utility players such Wilmer Difo, Hoy Park, the aforementioned Marcano, and Anthony Alford’s recent hot streak, Oliva has gotten pushed way down the chart as a potential outfielder for 2022.

Oliva had a solid 2018 and 2019 seasons. He had a 124 and 123 wRC+ between the two campaigns. Along with his solid OBP, which was above .350 in both seasons (.354 and .352), Oliva stole 33 and 36 bags. He didn’t show much power, but his ability to reach base at a solid rate while being able to swipe a base frequently while playing a quality center field led to him being ranked as one of the team’s top prospects.

However, Oliva’s 2021 season has not been very good. He’s mostly spent the year at Triple-A where he has hit .262/.330/.375 with a .316 wOBA, and 91 wRC+. Granted, since the beginning of August, he’s putting up a much better .291/.360/.418 line, .346 wOBA, and 110 wRC+.

But that may not be enough to get him out of DFA limbo. As stated earlier, the Pirates have a ton of other, more talented outfield prospects available. The team will likely open up the 2022 campaign with a mixture of Bryan Reynolds, Alford, and Ben Gamel in the grass. However, that could quickly change.

Swaggerty would have probably taken over a regular role in 2021 had it not been for an injury that kept him out all of this year. After all, he got off to a good start at Triple-A, posting a .772 OPS, .343 wOBA, and 108 wRC+ through a small sample size of 48 plate appearances. Plus he got unlucky having a BAbip of just .200 despite a line drive rate of 26.7%.

Swaggerty, along with Smith-Njigba will likely see some time in the major leagues next season, barring major injury. Plus Oneil Cruz may make the long-awaited move to an outfield spot. Ji-Hwan Bae has also started to see some time in the grass. With so many different options that can play the grass that will see some time in the majors next season, Oliva has a good chance of being DFA’d.

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