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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Connor Joe

Connor Joe was acquired by the Pirates this past off-season. The Bucs didn’t give up much to acquire the OF/1B, only sending minor league pitcher Nick Garcia to the Colorado Rockies in return (who has a 7.78 ERA, 5.62 FIP, and 1.73 WHIP for the Rockie Double-A affiliate). Joe, like Castro, looked like he may have secured himself a regular, and potential long-term role not that long ago.

At the end of May, Joe was slashing .255/.346/.484 with a .359 wOBA and 125 wRC+. Although he had a mediocre 27.4% strikeout rate, he also walked in 10.1% of his plate appearances. On top of that, he was hitting for plus power. Joe had cranked out six home runs in only 179 plate appearances and had a .229 isolated slugging percentage.

But like the names mentioned before him, Joe has seemingly taken a completely out-of-control nosedive. While he hasn’t been nearly as bad as Castro in June, Joe still has a poor .218/.299/.300 triple-slash. While he still has a 10.4% walk rate, Joe has struck out nearly a third of the time with a 31.3% K-rate. While Joe has an above-average 89.1 MPH exit velocity, he’s hit for little power, with a .083 isolated slugging percentage. Between his rising K% and lack of power, Joe has just a .272 wOBA and 67 wRC+ in June.

Joe’s defense has been less than spectacular, but he also hasn’t been a liability either. In the outfield, Joe has -3 defensive runs saved but is +1 out above average. When Joe has taken up first base, he has -2 DRS and +1 OAA. Overall, he’s been pretty average. The one area in which he's been above average in is arm strength, averaging 90.7 MPH on his throws from the outfield, which is the 28th highest in baseball (which is about the 89th-90th percentile).

Optioning Joe also lets the Pirates keep Davis in the line-up regularly but in the outfield. The only downside is that the Pirates are optioning their only backup option at first base. If Carlos Santana would need to be pulled for whatever reason during a game, the Pirates would basically have to hope that someone like Castro, Delay (if neither are the ones who are optioned to Indy after Reynolds’ return), or Hedges could handle first base until further notice. However, this would open up more playing time for Davis in the outfield.