Pittsburgh Pirates: Candidates to Be Optioned to Triple-A When Bryan Reynolds Returns

Who could go when Bryan Reynolds returns?
Jun 9, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Bryan Reynolds (10)
Jun 9, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Bryan Reynolds (10) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Jason Delay

If you haven’t been following the Pirates or Jason Delay, you’d probably wonder why he’s a prime candidate to get sent to Triple-A, just at a glance. Delay is batting .275/.337/.385 on the season. Plus, he has a respectable .318 wOBA, and 98 wRC+, making him almost league-average on the dot. Some may even think he should be a starting catcher based on that alone. The league average triple-slash and wRC+ for a catcher are just .234/.301/.384 and 88, respectively.

However, Delay’s numbers are mostly fueled by his blazing-hot start to the year. Delay was batting .390/.435/.610 through April. Delay had a .441 wOBA and 180 wRC+ at this time. While his 6.4% walk rate was below average, he also had a phenomenal 10.6% strikeout rate. It was obvious that Delay’s start to the season was likely unsustainable, but he’s not just fallen off a cliff but has done so in an unspectacular way.

Since the start of May, Delay is just a .180/.250/.200 batter. He has a wRC+ well below 50 at 30 and a wOBA of just .215. Although his walk rate is up to 7.2%, he’s also struck out 39.3%. Sure, Delay didn’t enter the season as a potential contributor with the bat, but even this falls well short of his 2022 season, where he hit .213/.265/.271 with a .230 wOBA and 53 wRC+.

The only thing Delay has brought to the table is good defense, which to his credit, has been an extremely strong suit for him. In just 246.1 innings, Delay has +2 defensive runs saved and +4.5 framing runs. Despite mostly playing a semi-regular role, he ranks top ten in framing. He’s also yet to allow a passed ball, either.

In my opinion, Delay is the best option to be sent to Triple-A. It is the best option, in my opinion, because this lets the Pirates keep Henry Davis in the lineup regularly. While Davis has mostly played right field since getting to the major leagues, he deserves a couple of games behind the plate. Plus, getting Delay out and Davis in means less playing time for Austin Hedges and improves a position where the Pirates rank next to last in wRC+, wOBA, and 26th in the league in fWAR since May.