With playing time available in the outfield Greg Allen could earn a role with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season
One of the moves the Pittsburgh Pirates made this offseason before the players were locked out by MLB owners was claiming outfielder Greg Allen off waivers from the New York Yankees on November 5th. The switch-hitting Allen could now be in line for strong season with the Pirates in 2022.
After turning heads with the Yankees in 2021, Allen saw his time with the organization come to an end. It came as a bit of a surprise that he was designated for assignment by the Yankees as Allen had appeared to have done enough to garner sticking around and earning a longer look in spring training.
Allen had just 48 plate appearances in 15 games played with the Yankees in 2021. In these 48 PAs Allen hit for a .270/.417/.432 slash line to go with a 140 wRC+. While it was a very small sample size, it was the best season of Allen’s MLB career.
Prior to his strong offensive output with the Yankees last season Allen had spent the previous four seasons as a plus defender. Allen played for Cleveland in 2017-2020, and was traded to San Diego on August 31st, 2020.
While Allen has struggled in center field in his career he has always been a strong defender in left and right field. He owns a lifetime +6 Defensive Runs Saved in right field and +3 in left field. With Bryan Reynolds having center field locked down Allen’s opportunity to make an impact would come as a corner outfielder, so his struggles in center field should not hold him back in 2022.
While Ben Gamel is likely to start on close to an every day basis, that still leaves another corner outfield spot to address. With a strong showing in spring training, whenever that begins, Allen should have as strong of an opportunity as anyone to earn regular playing time.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will likely want to get outfield prospect Travis Swaggerty. Swaggerty could potentially break camp on the active roster. However, due to him being limited to just 12 games the past two seasons they could have him start the season at Triple-A to get at-bats to help knock the rust off. This could leave the Opening Day left field job being a battle between Allen and Anthony Alford.
While Alford could earn another look with the Pittsburgh Pirates after finishing the 2021 season strong, there is an argument to be made to give the opportunity to Allen instead. While both finished the 2021 season strong, Alford’s career track record as a hitter is not as strong as Allen. Even in his poor offensive seasons prior to 2021 Allen was a more productive hitter than Alford as been in his career.
The 2022 season could be one of opportunity for Allen. With the Pirate outfield being filled with question marks outside of center field, there should be plenty of playing time and at-bats to go around for Allen. If he can play anywhere near the level he did with the Yankees last season then he could emerge as an every day caliber player.