Pittsburgh Pirates: Four Chris Stratton Trades With Values

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Pittsburgh Pirates
CHAPEL HILL, NC – MARCH 08: Niko Kavadas #12 of the University of Notre Dame waits for a pitch during a game between Notre Dame and North Carolina at Boshamer Stadium on March 08, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

Niko Kavadas was a player I highlighted as a potential prospect the Pirates should look into during the 2021 draft. Then Notre Dame hulking first baseman, Kavadas entered the draft with even more raw power than Henry Davis, who the Pirates selected 1/1.

Kavadas posted a phenomenal .286/.414/.587 line with 47 long balls in 697 plate appearances. Kavadas’ isolated slugging percentage peaked just over .300 at .301. He had just a 20.8% strikeout rate throughout his time in college while walking a ton. He drew over 100 bases on balls for a 15.6% walk rate. Overall, he had a .428 wOBA.

Kavadas ended up going in the 11th round to the Boston Red Sox, who signed him to an over-slot pick. He’s already played a few games professionally and stepped to the plate 58 total times. He did quite well with 11 hits (4 doubles, two home runs) while walking 15 times and striking out just 13 times.

So why would the Red Sox be interested in moving Kavadas? He’s only limited to first base and designated hitter. The 6’1″, 235-pound infielder did play some third base during college but is best suited for first long term. Those are two positions the Red Sox have on lockdown for the foreseeable future. Currently, Triston Casas is considered one of the best prospects in baseball. Bobby Dalbec had a great rookie season and caught fire in the second half of 2021. The Sox may also eventually move Rafael Devers to first or utilize him at DH more often, given his defensive struggles at the hot corner. Kavadas also isn’t the only high-power ceiling corner infield prospect the Sox drafted in 2021, with them also selected phenom Blaze Jordan.

Their pen was about middle-of-the-pack, ranking 13th in ERA (3.99), 10th in FIP (4.06), but 23rd in WHIP (1.39). They also are seeing Adam Ottavino hit free agency, and the right-hander had the most bullpen appearances and the second most innings pitched out of the pen for the Sox last year.

The Pirates would also be including left-handed reliever Blake Weiman. Weiman has pitched very solid throughout the minor leagues. Last year, an inflated 23.9% HR/FB rate significantly hurt him, despite overall solid underlying numbers.

That’s also not to say that Kavadas comes with no risk, and he has to hit in order to provide any value. You’re always taking on some risk with guys like him, given their lack of defensive versatility or lack of prominent defensive prowess at first base.