Pittsburgh Pirates: Top Five Position Player Trade Targets

Who are the top five position players the Pirates should pursue in trade?
Sep 10, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; San Diego Padres second baseman Ha-Seong Kim (7) bats during the
Sep 10, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; San Diego Padres second baseman Ha-Seong Kim (7) bats during the / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Number Five - Ryan Noda

How often are first-season players put on the trade market? It’s rare, but with the Oakland Athletics, you never know. One of those players whom the A’s may look to trade is first baseman Ryan Noda. Noda was the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft and delivered a quality rookie season. If the A’s are looking to continue their complete teardown, you might see Noda’s name come up in trade rumors this off-season.

Noda finished his year with a .229/.364/.406 triple-slash. Nolda had a .342 wOBA, resulting in a league and ballpark adjusted 123 wRC+. Noda hit for above average power, going yard 16 times with a .177 isolated slugging percentage, but got on base via a strong 15.6% walk rate. Noda was more of a three-true-outcomes kind of batter, as he struck out at a 34.3% rate.

Noda certainly has the raw power to hit for more pop in the future. The lefty batter was in the 71st percentile or better of hard hit rate (45%), exit velocity (91.2 MPH), and barrel rate (13%). Noda was known for his plus raw power throughout his time in the LA Dodger system, and he showed it off here in his first big league campaign.

Despite the strong power profile, Baseball Savant’s expected numbers did not love Noda. He had just a .334 xwOBA, .399 xSLG%, and .212 xBA. But there are some positives that could help him overplay his expected numbers, aside from having a strong ability to hit the ball hard.

Noda also had drastic home/away splits. When playing in Oakland Coliseum, he batted just .199/.331/.372 with a 107 wRC+. However, when Noda went on the road, he slashed .257/.397/.438 with a 136 wRC+. He was 30% better when he was playing as the guest, and there’s a reason why. Oakland is the 5th least friendly hitter park over the last three seasons. PNC Park is far more hitter friendly, as it ranks around the middle of the pack.

Since Noda was a rookie, he is still a few years away from even being arbitration eligible. That would make him a potential long-term solution at first base. There are some red flags, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives about Noda. It might cost a little extra, given his contract status, but if the A’s decide to shop the first baseman, I think he is one the Pirates should pursue. But you could make an easy argument that the A’s will keep him for now. One year into his pro career, and a solid rookie season at that, and get traded already? Sure, the A’s aren’t known for keeping their players around long-term, but that’s a short stint, even for the A’s. That’s the main reason he isn’t higher up on today’s list.