The Pittsburgh Pirates could use Liover Peguero in a trade this offseason, but does he have any trade value right now?
The Pittsburgh Pirates need to be active, and so far, there has been little activity from the Bucs. The trade market is one area where general manager Ben Cherington claimed to be active in. There’s still a lot of off-season left, but thus far, it’s been a boring time for Pirates fans. One player that the Pirates would likely be willing to trade is middle infielder Liover Peguero, but what kind of trade value does he have?
Peguero opened the season at Double-A, and after a rough first two weeks, he found his footing and was great for the majority of his tenure in the minors. Peguero batted .272/.350/.496 with a .375 wOBA, and 128 wRC+. Peguero hit for above-average power with a .224 isolated slugging percentage and 13 home runs in only 306 plate appearances. But the most promising aspect of this stretch was his solid 17.6% strikeout rate and a walk rate of 10.8%. Those were two things Peguero struggled with during 2022, striking out at a 21.3% rate with a walk rate of just 5.9%.
The Pirates seemed very confident in Peguero, only giving him 30 plate appearances in seven games at Triple-A Indy before calling him to the majors. For the first handful of outings, Peguero looked like he may secure himself the second base job, no questions asked. He batted .272/.323/.462 with a .336 wOBA and 109 wRC+ from the outset from the All-Star break through September 3rd. While his 6.2% walk rate and 27.9% strikeout rate were both unimpressive, he did hit for good power, going yard six times in 124 plate appearances and having a .188 ISO.
Peguero would come to the plate 84 more times after September 3rd, and it was an ugly stretch. He hit just .185/.214/.247 with a .204 wOBA, and wRC+ of 20. Strikeouts became a massive issue as he had a 36.9% strikeout rate with a lowly 3.6% walk rate. The only positive takeaway is that he started to hit the ball harder. His exit velocity and hard-hit rate went from 88 MPH and 35.7% in his first 124 PAs to 91.4 MPH and 46% in his final 84 PAs.
A lot of this had to do with a mix of becoming much more aggressive at the plate and seeing many more slides. His swing rate went up by about 8.5%, and his swinging strike rate went up by nearly 5%, while the number of slides he saw went up by about 6.5%. Peguero seemed to try and sell out for power, which, while he hit the ball harder, made him worse in every other aspect. I went into more detail about his struggles in September in this article here.
That September stretch certainly hurt his value. But again, we are looking at a 22-year-old who essentially skipped Triple-A and looked solid in the first half of his rookie year. On top of that, the free agent market for middle infielders is devoid of any good players. Heck, even finding a solid semi-regular is a hard task. It may also depend on the team. I’m sure the Texas Rangers aren’t pursuing shortstops or middle infielders right now, with MVP finalists Marcus Semien and Corey Seager up the middle. But the Marlins may be looking into the market.
While Peguero may not be the hottest commodity ever, he does have a handful of things working in his favor. He’s young, he had a solid start to his MLB career, was good in the minors this season, and plays a position where there are very few options on the free agent market. Even though he struggled down the line, he learned how to hit the ball hard. Now, he just needs to learn how to hit the ball more consistently. That is easier said than done, but you have to start somewhere.
Peguero could get the Pirates something of value. Alone, you may only see him get back another young player who has shown potential in the majors but has struggled at times, too, like Peguero has. But he could also be a very good deal sweetener or a solid headliner with another prospect.