According to reports, the Minnesota Twins are fielding trade interest on two players, both of whom play a position of need for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Thus far, the offseason has not been an active one for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Other than trading for Marco Gonzales, the Pirates have not done anything yet to improve the MLB roster. Part of that is due to the Pirates, as usual, not being big players in free agency.
Instead, it appears that general manager Ben Cherington plans to attempt to address the roster's needs via trade more than in free agency.
On Saturday, news broke that the Minnesota Twins are fielding trade interest on second baseman Jorge Polanco and right fielder Max Kepler. With both of these players potentially available on the trade market, Cherington needs to be on the phone with Minnesota GM Thad Levine.
Right now, the Pirates do not have an answer for second base. With the team committing to Henry Davis catch in 2024, that creates a need in the outfield. Cherington has even stated that the Pirates will be in the market for outfield help this offseason.
It appears the Pirates are fine with Jack Suwinski continuing to play center field. With Bryan Reynolds entrenched in left field, that means right field is the spot the team would look to upgrade at. That makes Kepler a perfect fit with the Bucs.
The left-handed hitting Kepler slashed .260/.332/.484 last season. Kepler posted a 9.2% walk rate, 21.6% strikeout rate, 124 wRC+, 121 OPS+, and hit 24 home runs to go with an isolated slugging (ISO) of .224.
Kepler is also a strong defensive right fielder. Last season, he posted a +2 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and a +4 Outs Above Average (OAA) in right field. In his career, he owns a career +48 DRS and +55 OAA in right field.
The 30-year-old Kepler is in the final season of a 6-year contract extension he signed before the 2019 season. So, Kepler would be just a rental piece for the Pirates. However, this could also drive Minnesota's asking price for Kepler down and make it easier for the Pirates to afford him in a trade.