Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Travis Swaggerty Trade Proposals

Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates
Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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Pittsburgh Pirates Acquire: Brant Hurter
Detroit Tigers Acquire: Travis Swaggerty

The Detroit Tigers are a team who is in need of outfield help, especially in center field. Comerica Park's outfield is one of the most spacious in all of baseball, even with the new dimensions. The Tigers' outfield struggled last year and is entering the year with questions left unresolved so far this off-season. In return, the Pirates would get Brant Hurter.

Hurter was the Tigers' 7th-round pick from 2021. Hurter made quick work of minor league batters, going from Low-A and debuting at Double-A by the end of the season. While his 3.71 ERA might not jump off the page, he had an outstanding 2.52 FIP and 1.12 WHIP. The southpaw struck out 31.1% of opponents faced with a walk rate of just under 5% (4.8%).

Both his strikeout rate and walk rate were outstanding, but his ability to prevent the long ball was even better. Hurter had a HR/9 of just 0.59. He also had a ground ball rate of 53.2%. Overall, he had the best FIP, K:BB ratio, and xFIP (2.44) among the Tigers' farmhands with at least 50 frames under their belt during the 2022 season.

Hurter is not a flamethrower, only working in the 92-94 MPH range, but that is a step forward for him. He was sitting 88-92 when the Tigers drafted him, but he also throws his fastball with some sink. His primary breaking offering is a low-80s slider. It's an offering with a high spin rate and his best pitch. His low-spin change-up is another pitch that projects to be average or better.

So why would the Tigers have any interest in Swaggerty? Tigers outfielders batted an abysmal .235/.302/.342 last season with a wRC+ that clocked in at 86 (14% below league average). They were the fifth least productive team when it came to outfielders. None of their OFs had a wRC+ of 100 or greater in 200+ plate appearances. As a defensive unit, they produced decent results with +25 DRS and +12 OAA, albeit with a -2.4 UZR/150.

Looking at the Tigers' depth chart, they could definitely use the help. Austin Meadows, Riley Greene, and Akil Baddoo are the current left-to-right line. Meadows isn't necessarily known for his durability and Baddoo is coming off a sophomore season in which he had a sub-.600 OPS. Meadows also has yet to play 100+ games in the outfield in his major league career, as he split most of his time at LF and DH during his time in Tampa.

Youngster Kerry Carpenter is on hand after a solid, albeit brief major league showing, and Austin's brother, Parker Meadows, looked great at Double-A, so there are some other potential long-term assets besides Greene. Either way, the Tigers could still use a guy who can slot into the spacious center field spot. Although Greene is still young, he doesn't project as a CF long-term, and he posted mostly average defensive numbers at center last year.

Both Swaggerty and Hurter rank around the same spot per MLB Pipeline. The former comes in at the Pirates' no. 19 spot, while the latter comes in at the Tigers' no. 22 ranking. The Tigers have a myriad of young pitchers like Tarik Skubal, Garrett Hill, Joey Wentz, Beau Brieske, and Matt Manning, with both Casey Mize and Spencer Turnbull returning from injury. Also, three of the Tigers' top five prospects per MLB Pipeline are pitching prospects. The Pirates meanwhile, have very few notable left-handed pitching prospects.

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