Pittsburgh Pirates: Breaking Down the Return for Rich Hill and Ji Man Choi

Lets take a look at the players the Pirates got in the Rich Hill/Ji-Man Choi trade

Jul 22, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Jackson Wolf (43) pitches
Jul 22, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Jackson Wolf (43) pitches / Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
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Alfonso Rivas

Alfonso Rivas is likely just a throw-in to this trade to help with the lost depth at first base. Rivas, a soon-to-be 27-year-old first baseman/outfielder, has served as an up-and-down depth piece for both the Chicago Cubs and Padres. He’ll likely serve a similar function until Malcolm Nuñez is fully stretched out again after his rehab.

Most of Rivas’ playing time came in 2022 where he batted .235/.322/.307 with a .285 wOBA, and 82 wRC+ through 287 plate appearances for the Cubs. While he did post a 10.1% walk rate, he also struck out 30.3% of the time. Of the few positives, Rivas was a strong defensive first baseman when he took the field, racking up +6 defensive runs saved throughout just 646.1 innings.

Rivas has spent most of the 2023 season for the Padre Triple-A affiliate where he is batting .332/.462/.582 with a .457 wOBA, and 150 wRC+. While he struck out a ton in the majors in 2022, he has only went down on strike three 19.2% of the time. He’s also walked at nearly the same, 18.8% rate. Plus he’s hit for some pop with a .250 isolated slugging percentage. Although these are good numbers, keep in mind that this is the Pacific Coast League. The league average triple-slash in the PCL is better than it was at the peak of the steroid era.

At the very least, Rivas does provide some relief for Connor Joe against RHP. Rivas had an above-average .257 batting average and .347 on-base percentage against righties last season but slugged well below .400 at .338. Again, the Pirates probably don’t view Rivas as anything more than a bridge for Nuñez. There are far worse depth first basemen out there than Rivas, but he’s by far the least exciting piece of this deal.

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