Pittsburgh Pirates sign outfielder Michael A. Taylor

Pirates add 10-year veteran center fielder to outfield mix on one-year deal
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Four
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Four / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the Pirates have agreed to terms with center fielder Michael A. Taylor:

Taylor, who will turn 33 two days before Opening Day, spent the 2023 season as the starting center fielder for the Minnesota Twins, who won 87 games and reached the Divisional Round of the AL Playoffs. MLB.com's Alex Stumpf adds that the deal is still pending a physical.

Taylor slashed .220/.278/.442 in 388 plate appearances in 2023, good for a wRC+ of 96. His 21 home runs represented a career high, and was a very efficient base stealer, swiping 13 bags on 14 attempts. Unfortunately, after three straight seasons with a strikeout rate below 30 percent, that figure skyrocketed back up to 33.5 percent in 2023.

A right-handed hitter, Taylor holds a career .746 OPS against left-handed pitching compared to a .657 mark against righties. His performance against right-handers was around that same ballpark in 2023, but he absolutely crushed southpaws to the tune of a .914 OPS. He hit nine of his 21 homers against lefties and slugged a robust .602 (for reference, Aaron Judge's career slugging percentage is .586).

Defense has always been Taylor's calling card, and that continues to be the case, even as he approaches his mid-thirties. His nine outs above average placed him in the 94th percentile among all defenders last season, and both his arm (88th percentile) and speed (84th percentile) remain significant assets.

Taylor accumulated 22 outs above average from 2021-2022 while manning the cavernous center field in Kansas City. Only Cleveland's Myles Straw was a more valuable defensive outfielder in that span. Taylor won his only career Gold Glove award in 2021.

This move represents a welcome upgrade to the Pirates' defense at a very reasonable price.

Assuming Taylor now gets the lion's share of the playing time in center field, this likely shifts Jack Suwinski to a platoon with Edward Olivares and, when he's not at first base, Connor Joe. It was pretty well established that the Pirates wanted to add another outfielder. FanSided's Robert Murray reported today that the Pirates pursued Tommy Pham and Adam Duvall in addition to Taylor.