Ranking 5 potential Pittsburgh Pirates outfield trade targets

The Pirates desperately need outfield help, and the outfield trade market should have some decent options. But who are the best and most likely trade targets the Pirates will go after?
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No. 5: Luis Robert Jr.

Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert Jr. will be one of the most highly sought-after players at the trade deadline. He's young and is a potential 30+ homer center fielder with Gold Glove defense. Plus, he comes with multiple years of control remaining for an affordable cost, given his value.

Robert has missed a chunk of 2024, but when he has been able to play, he's been solid, batting .207/.285/.505 with a 115 wRC+. The name of the game for Robert Jr. is power. He has a .297 isolated slugging percentage and nine home runs in only 123 plate appearances. While he is walking at a career-high 9.8% rate, which is a massive step up from 5% last year, he is also striking out a career-high 34.1% of the time.

Of course, Robert Jr. was one of the best-hitting center fielders in baseball last season. He had an .857 OPS, .358 wOBA, and 128 wRC+. The only primary outfielders last year with more home runs than Robert's 38 were Ronald Acuña Jr., Mookie Betts, and Adolis Garcia. Along with nearly 40 homers from center field, Robert racked up +6 defensive runs saved and +13 outs above average.

Robert is great, so what's the catch? Well, part of it is that he hasn't shown to be reliable for even just 120 games a season. Robert made his debut during the shortened 2020 season. Since then, he's played 100+ games just once, which was last year. So far this season, he's missed time and has appeared in less than half of the White Sox's games. Robert also isn't cheap, payroll-wise. He'll make $15 million next year, then has two team options for 2026 and 2027 worth $20 million each. When healthy, Robert is a potential +5.0 WAR player. But that's when he's healthy. So far, he's played a lot like Byron Buxton: someone who is great when healthy, but not healthy very often.

But by no means is Robert Jr. a bad player. He'd be an upgrade to any outfield, especially the Pirates'. However, he doesn't seem like a guy the Pirates are about to sell the farm for. The White Sox were reportedly looking for a "Juan Soto-like" return, but Soto is one of the best hitters of this generation and has played 150+ games in four straight seasons. Of course, Pirates fans would still be ecstatic if Robert landed in black and gold. His ceiling is at a consistent All-Star level (or perhaps even higher than that) with Gold Glove defense. In this current climate, though, he seems like the least likely trade target for the Pirates.