The Pittsburgh Pirates had a rough 2022 season, finishing with a record of 55-107, the worst in the National League. While the team is still clearly in rebuilding mode, adding some veterans to supplement the young core could help them take a step forward in 2023. One free agent who could help the Pirates is outfielder/first baseman Adam Duvall.
Duvall just wrapped up a solid season with the Boston Red Sox in which the 35-year-old right-hander hit .247 with 21 home runs and 58 RBIs in 320 at-bats. He provided good power from the right side of the plate on an affordable one-year, $7 million contract. That kind of short-term deal at a reasonable price is likely the type of free agent move the Pirates will target this winter.
The 6’1”, 233-pound Louisville native would bring a veteran presence and still has some pop in his bat. His ability to play all three outfield spots and even first base would also give manager Derek Shelton flexibility with his lineup. We all know Shelton likes having those types of players who can fit in multiple roles. Duvall could take over as the starting center fielder or first baseman, moving Ji-hwan Bae to a super-utility role and a late-game defensive upgrade. He could also take at-bats when the team decides to put Henry Davis behind home plate for a game. Against lefties, Duvall could slide into the lineup when the Pirates want to sit left-handed hitting rookie Jack Suwinski.
In his 11-year major league career since being drafted by the Giants in 2010 out of the University of Louisville, Duvall has hit .232 with a .763 OPS and 184 home runs. His best season came in 2016 when he was an All-Star, hitting .241 with 33 home runs and an .874 OPS for the Reds. While he may not reach those heights again, Duvall has shown he can still impact a lineup with his power.
The Pittsburgh Pirates need to take some chances on veterans who could provide actual winning value and not just potential trade chips.
A player like Duvall is going to cost a little more than some of the other players brought in over the years, but he still should be relatively affordable and short-term. The 35-year-old Duvall seems like an ideal fit at the right price. His addition would give Shelton more lineup flexibility while providing some extra pop from the right side. He should be high on the team’s wish list when free agency opens this winter.