Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Moves That Will Pay Dividends In 2024

These three Pirates acquisitions will pay dividends in 2024.
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Acquiring Edward Olivares

The Pirates made a mostly under-the-radar trade when they acquired Edward Olivares from the Kansas City Royals. Olivares is an outfielder that I think could be one of the best trade acquisitions, not just by the Pirates but by most MLB teams from this off-season. Oliveras showed a lot of potential in Kansas City, and it was shocking the Pirates had to give up so little to acquire him.

Olivares batted .263/.317/.452 last season in 385 plate appearances. He had a dozen home runs with a .189 isolated slugging percentage. Olivares had an outstanding 16.6% strikeout rate but only drew a walk in 5.7% of his plate appearances. But many of the underlying numbers point to improvement in 2024.

Olivares had a .340 xwOBA, 11 points higher than his wOBA. His xBA was also nine points better at .272. Expected stats aren't the only numbers that paint Oliveras in a positive light. DRC+, or deserved runs created plus, has him at 117, putting within 1% of the likes of Jorge Soler, Christian Walker, Mike Trout, and Corbin Carroll.

Some have concerns about Olivares' defense, and the numbers support that concern. He had -11 defensive runs saved and -7 outs above average in the outfield despite playing less than 500 innings. But Kauffman is one of the largest ballparks in MLB. It is 330 feet down each line and 410 feet to center field. It is also 385 to both right and left center. PNC Park is 325 and 320 down the left and right field lines and 399 to center. Right-center is only 375, but the deepest part of PNC is deeper than Kauffman's CF, and that's the left-center notch.

Still, the overall dimensions are smaller than Kauffman, which should make it easier for Olivares to field. If Olivares were to improve his defense through playing an easier outfield, it wouldn't be too dissimilar to Connor Joe. Joe had -4 OAA in 2022 after playing 507.1 innings for the Colorado Rockies, whose Coors Field has the most spacious outfield in baseball, even more so than Kauffman's. Last year, however, he had +1 OAA in the grass despite no major changes in his speed or arm strength.

Olivares has the tools to improve his defense as well. He is a plus runner who was in the 83rd percentile of sprint speed last year. His throws averaged 91.4 MPH from the outfield, which was in the 90th percentile. He could be a solid defensive right fielder in PNC next season. If the Pirates sign another outfielder (like Michael A. Taylor), then him and Jack Suwinski platooning in right could give the Pirates some very good production.

I think Olivares could be a 15 home run/.270-hitting threat next season. He has a lot of upside and he is only entering his age-28 season. Olivares' glove and bat will definitely play better in a shallower park. If the Pirates acquire another outfielder so he can platoon with Jack, then he might play even better than that.