Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Underrated Free Agents Still on the Market

Milwaukee Brewers v Pittsburgh Pirates
Milwaukee Brewers v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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Edwin Rios

The non-tender deadline always has a few surprising names. While Cody Bellinger was the most notable this year, one name that the Los Angeles Dodgers let go, despite being more productive than Bellinger last year, was first baseman Edwin Rios. Rios is a power hitter who has yet to be picked up on a major or minor league deal.

Rios only had 92 plate appearances last season but still hit .244/.293/.500. Despite stepping to the plate less than 100 times, he hit seven home runs. Although the downside is he only drew five free passes and struck out a whopping 36 times. But Rios has done much better in the past.

In 2019-2020, Rios slashed .260/.338/.634 in 139 plate appearances. Rios crushed a dozen dingers to go along with a decent 9.4% walk rate. Strikeouts were an issue, but not nearly to the extent of 2022. He had a 28.8% strikeout rate, which is still below average, but better than 36 in 92 plate appearances. Overall, he had a 150 wRC+ in this small sample size.

Rios has a ton of raw power. FanGraphs gives him a 70 raw power grade, and he has a 90.9 MPH exit velocity in the major leagues. He also has a 47% hard-hit rate and 15.5% barrel rate. For reference of how good his career barrel rate is, there were only 15 batters last year with a 15%+ barrel rate in 300+ plate appearances.

Although the Pittsburgh Pirates added a handful of first base options this winter with Ji-Man Choi, Carlos Santana, and Connor Joe, and also have Malcolm Nuñez at Triple-A. Rios still has control through the 2025 season and has a minor league option remaining. Despite little fanfare, Rios might be the best power hitter left on the free agent market.

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