Pittsburgh Pirates: Change of Scenery Trade Deadline Targets

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JUNE 15: Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres reacts during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 15, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JUNE 15: Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres reacts during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 15, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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MIAMI, FLORIDA – MAY 21: Khalil Lee #26 of the New York Mets in action against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on May 21, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA – MAY 21: Khalil Lee #26 of the New York Mets in action against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on May 21, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

OF Khalil Lee

The New York Mets acquired Khalil Lee in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals. Lee was a third-rounder by the Royals back in 2016. Although he was never a consensus top 100 prospect, he consistently shows up among the best prospects in the Mets and Royals’ systems. There’s a lot to like about Lee, but there’s also concern with Lee.

Lee had a monster 2021 when he batted .274/.451/.500 with a .426 wOBA and 162 wRC+. He walked at an insane 18.3% clip while having a .226 isolated slugging percentage. The downside? He had a ground ball rate just above 50% (51.5%) and struck out 29.6% strikeout rate. Somehow, despite that extremely high ground ball rate, he managed a .402 batting average on balls in play.

Those massive red flags has caught up to Lee this season. His ground ball rate sits at an even 50%, and his BAbip has fallen to a much more reasonable .298. But in turn, he’s only hitting .203/.324/.390 with a .323 wOBA and 94 wRC+. He’s still striking out a ton, having a 34.5% K-rate, but what is troubling is that his walk rate has taken a significant downturn to just 11.8%.

Lee has the raw power of a 30-home run hitter and the speed of a guy who could swipe 20 bases. But he’s the kind of player who would greatly benefit from the launch angle revolution (sounds like a third baseman I know). He’s generally considered a plus defender in the corner outfield spots and can easily handle himself in centerfield. He was a pitcher in high school, so he has an arm that can play all three spots.

Next. Prospects Pushing for a Rankings Bump. dark

Maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates could do a high-risk/reward prospect for a high-risk/reward prospect, sending a similar player in Mason Martin. Martin brings more power than Lee but is limited to just first base. Pirates could also take on a contract, or send some money to convince the Mets.

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