Could Pirates add unique element to offense with recently DFA’d Rays outfielder?

It's worth a shot
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The Pirates' offense has been on a bit of a heater recently. Since May 15, they are, surprisingly, top-10 in runs scored. Andrew McCutchen and Bryan Reynolds have been table setters at the top, accounting for 23% of the team's runs during that stretch. Nick Gonzales came up from Triple-A and instantly staked his claim to the second baseman role and has become an RBI machine, accounting for nearly 20% of the team's RBI since May 15th.

One thing that has plagued this Pirates team is strikeouts. Since May 15, the team has the second highest strikeout rate at 26.5%, trailing only the Oakland Athletics. Guys like Jack Suwinski (46.7%), Oneil Cruz (39.7%) and Michael A. Taylor (35.7%) are the biggest culprits, but most of the rest of the lineup is in the mid-20s. This is all fine and dandy if you are slugging like the 1920s Bronx Bombers, but this Pirates team just doesn't possess that type of power, as they are currently bottom seven in home runs.

This is where a move for an outfielder/DH type that doesn't strike out and hits for a high average could be a sneaky, low-risk move that could pay huge dividends. The Tampa Bay Rays, in a surprising move, designated Harold Ramirez for assignment after he began the year hitting .268/.284/.305 across the board. You can tell that Ramirez has displayed basically zero power this year (four of his 44 hits this year have been extra base-hits), a departure from his 2023 breakout. He pretty much never walks (just three on the year), but with that comes a very respectable strikeout rate (19.5%). This could really add a solid element to a Pirates team lacking high average, solid contact hitters. He would be a welcomed addition to the outfield while rotating in at DH with Andrew McCutchen.

This move could pay off big time if Ramirez could return to his 2022 and 2023 seasons where he posted a 119 wRC+ and a 128 wRC+. He set a career high in slugging percentage in 2023 (.460) that is looking like the outlier, but the Pirates don't necessarily need him to be that kind of guy. Imagine a very poor man's Luis Arraez, where Ramirez hits .280-.300, doesn’t strike out, and doesn’t provide a ton of defensive value, but could fake it in the outfield while rotating in at DH. That’s what Ramirez is. This is the type of move that the Pirates should really look to make. It would provide a completely different element to their team that they don't have, as they look to move up further into Wild Card contention.