Pittsburgh Pirates: Three First Base Options in Free Agency (And One via Trade!)

Division Series - Minnesota Twins v Houston Astros - Game Two
Division Series - Minnesota Twins v Houston Astros - Game Two / Bob Levey/GettyImages
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Josh Naylor

We've covered three potential free agents in this article that could fit the Pirates' needs heading into 2024, but that's not the only way the Pirates can address that need this winter. Cleveland has been taking calls on various players this off-season and one of them is their starting first-baseman Josh Naylor.

Naylor has emerged as an impactful hitter in the Guardian's lineup and is reportedly on the market. Last season he hit .308/.354/.489 (128 wRC+) in 495 PA with 17 HR and 31 doubles, producing a 2.5 fWAR as the Guardians' primary first baseman. Naylor gives the Pirates an everyday option to use at first base, DH, or even see time in the outfield. He crushes righties (129 wRC+) as much as he crushes lefties (127 wRC+), giving the Pirates more than just a platoon option.

Naylor is a solid defender at first base, collecting 5 outs above average (OAA), which ranks him the 88th percentile. He struck out just 13.7% of the time, ranking him in the top 94 percentile across baseball which, like Smith, would be a huge gain for this Pirates lineup. If you saw the Guardians play at PNC park this summer then you already know what he can do as he cranked 3 home runs and drove in 9 RBIs in 2 starts.

Naylor is under control for the next 2 seasons, his final years under arbitration. He is estimated to make around $7M in arbitration this year, giving the Pirates a middle-of-the-lineup bat at a rate far below the amount it would take to lock up a similar bat in free agency. It would likely take a trio of prospects to acquire Naylor, who plays with his brother Bo in Cleveland, but the move would more than pay dividends not only this season, but the following season as well.