Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Future for Connor Joe

As the Pirate rebuild hopefully enters its final stages in 2024, does Connor Joe have a future with the club?
Pittsburgh Pirates v Minnesota Twins
Pittsburgh Pirates v Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

Does Connor Joe have a long-term future with the Pittsburgh Pirates?

As the Pittsburgh Pirates rebuild continues and hopefully nears its end, the team will have to start removing players who aren't part of the future of the franchise. This could include Connor Joe. Personally, I like Joe, but stats don't favor him. While he's an effective Moneyball player, above league average with a 0.8 bWAR and a 1.1 oWAR, his -0.8 dWAR indicates a lack of defense. Although, he can play first base, left field, and right field.

Defensively, Joe has struggled. He owns a negative Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at all three positions he plays. However, his positional flexibility is still valuable and he remains under team control through the 2027 season.

The Pirates have prospects like Malcom Nuñez and Josiah Sightler starting to develop while having Alfonso Rivas, who has a bigger upside as a first baseman. This offseason, there are many free agents who play first base, like Josh Bell, Max Muncy, and Mark Canha. While it's unlikely they would be able to sign them due to club and player options, they can target players like Rhys Hoskins, Joey Gallo, and Brandon Belt.

However, it's unlikely they will be willing to pay them more than the $10+ million a year they would demand, leading them to seek cheaper talent like CJ Cron, Carlos Santana, Ji-Man Choi, Garrett Cooper, Yuli Gurriel, and Darin Ruf. Most of these players aren't going to have a long-term impact since they are aging, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Pirates made another move for Carlos Santana in the offseason, as he brings the most leadership among all the free agents this offseason.

All of this leaves the question, what is Joe's role on the Pirates? Outfield wise, the Pirates have Jack Suwinski, Henry Davis, and Bryan Reynolds. As well as Joshua Palacios and Ji Hwan Bae, the latter of which also can play second base. Joe could be replaced at first base by Rivas, Nuñez, or a free agent. The outfield is loaded with talent, and the DH position can't change ownership because Andrew McCutchen can't field anymore, and he, while being the guy that drives ticket sales, is the perfect Moneyball player because he gets on base a lot and hits when it matters.

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