4 players the Pittsburgh Pirates should acquire using their pitching talent

The Pittsburgh Pirates should use the vast amount of pitching talent in the organization to pursue these four hitters.
Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels
Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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Gavin Sheets

First base has been an issue the Pirates haven't been able to solve since Kevin Young retired. With their current pitching depth, they could find their next first baseman on the trade market. One guy who could be available is Chicago White Sox OF/1B Gavin Sheets. The Pirates should see what it would take to pry the lefty slugger from the White Sox, who will likely put everyone on their trading table come June.

After a strong first impression in 2021, Sheets struggled in both 2022 and 2023. However, Sheets looks like he's found something that's worked for him and has been great to start the 2024 season. Through 123 plate appearances, he is batting .262/.360/.449. Sheets is walking at a career-high 11.2% rate with a career-low 18.2% strikeout percentage. He's also hitting for some pop with three home runs, 11 doubles, and a .187 isolated slugging percentage. Sheets currently holds a .358 wOBA and 132 wRC+.

So why is this small sample size potentially the real Gavin Sheets and not his 82 wRC+ in 2022-2023? Well, first, Sheets has a 43.5% sweet spot rate, which means he is in the 95th percentile of hitting the optimal launch angle. His 90.1 MPH exit velo is also above average. He is swinging and missing, along with chasing outside the zone slightly less frequently than in previous seasons, but his xwOBA is .367, a massive step forward from .267 the year prior.

Sheets is a horrible defensive corner outfielder. He has 1412.1 innings in the grass with -16 defensive runs saved and -10 outs above average. But he can also play first base. This was his primary position throughout the minor leagues. Defensive metrics haven't been super kind to Sheets' work at first, but they're significantly better than in the outfield, and he's yet to play it consistently in the Majors. He has less than 400 innings at first over the course of nearly four campaigns.

One major positive is that Sheets is affordably controllable for the next handful of seasons. He doesn't become a free agent until after the 2027 campaign. That gives him the rest of this season, along with three more full seasons. If the White Sox make Sheets available in trade, the Pirates should jump on the opportunity. It solves first base for a handful of seasons and could give them their first decent 1B in quite some time.