Last week it was reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in veteran free agent outfielder Michael A. Taylor. Adding the veteran would improve the team's defense in a few ways.
With a little over a month to go until pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton kicking off spring training 2024 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, there are still plenty of question marks about this team and roster.
The current projected Pirate lineup is one that could very possibly struggle to score this season. Sure, there is potential there, but for now it's just that.
Can Ke'Bryan Hayes take what he did from June 1st through the end of the season over the course of six months? What does Oneil Cruz look like post-injury? Can young hitters such as Henry Davis and Liover Peguero take a step forward? Will Jack Suwinski cut down on his strikeouts and extended slumps? Can Rowdy Tellez rediscover his 2022 form?
Again, a lot of questions there.
So, if a team is possibly going to struggle to score runs one thing they can do is attempt to maximize run prevention. One thing the Pirates could do to accomplish this is address their center field defense, especially since doing that would improve the team's defense in more ways than one.
An easy way to address their center field defense is to add veteran Michael A. Taylor. Last week, it was reported that the Pirates are one of a handful of teams with interest in the free agent center fielder.
Taylor is a plus defender in center field. Last season, he posted a +5 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and a +9 Outs Above Average (OAA) in center field. For his career Taylor owns a +65 DRS in center field and a +46 OAA. It should be noted that OAA stats only go back to 2016, contributing to the difference between DRS and OAA.
If Taylor is in center field not only do the Pirate improve defensively at the position, it would also set the team up to improve defensively in right field. Signing Taylor would allow the Pirates to move Suwinski from center field to right field. In his career, Suwinski has a DRS of -9 in center field while his DRS in right field is +2.
Digging a bit deeper, it also opens up the door for the Pirates to platoon Suwinski in right field with Edward Olivares. This allows the Pirates to avoid trotting Suwinski out there against left-handed pitchers, which is just setting him up for failure.
Adding Taylor would improve the Pirate defense in more ways than one. Hopefully, this is a move that can come to fruition. It would then give the Pirates a strong defensive outfield, to go with one of the best defensive third basemen in all of baseball in Hayes, as well as likely plus defense from the second base position regardless if that job goes to Peguero or Jared Triolo.