The Pittsburgh Pirates have activated outfielder Jose Tabata from the disabled list and optioned Brandon Cumpton back to Triple-A Indianapolis in order to make room for Tabata on the 25-man roster.
Tabata’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for the Pirates. The bench of the Pirates consists of a bunch of scrubs and Gaby Sanchez. Names like Clint Barmes, Michael McKenry and Brandon Inge don’t excite anyone, so the best bench options for the Pirates now are Tabata and Sanchez.
If the Pirates take a similar approach to the trade deadline this season, which would mean just upgrading the bench and acquiring a starting pitcher, that would be just fine. The starting lineup is good, with very few weaknesses other than right field. If Tabata returns and hits well like he did in his first two MLB seasons, the Pirates won’t even need to upgrade right field.
The good news for the Pirates in 2013 is that if they do make any upgrades, it won’t be out of need, but will be a pure luxury. Could they upgrade second base? Yes, but with Neil Walker there, I don’t see it happening. Could they upgrade shortstop? Sure, but Jordy Mercer has taken over and hit very well. Upgrading the bench — while disposing of players like Barmes, Inge and McKenry, seems like the best move for the Pirates at this point.
Cumpton, the player sent to Triple-A to make room for Tabata, started on Tuesday night in the Pirates’ 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.