5 Possibilities At Right Field For 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates
5 Possible Pittsburgh Pirates Right Field Solutions
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the luxury of needing very few upgrades heading into the 2014 season. How many upgrades could a team coming off of a playoff season need? For the Pirates, they need to upgrade right field and first base. There are other ways that the Bucs could upgrade, mainly at shortstop and starting pitching, but right field and first base are huge needs.
The problem with finding upgrades for the Pirates is that they can’t be a major player in free agency like most MLB teams. People think that since the Pirates are getting money from MLB’s new TV deal that they can just decide to spend like the majority of the teams in baseball. That is not the case – keep in mind, the rest of the teams are getting that money too.
The Bucs' right field position was miserable in the first half of 2013. The majority of the plate appearances went to Travis Snider and Jose Tabata before the Pirates made the Marlon Byrd acquisition in late August. Snider will probably be non-tendered at some point this offseason, so we will operate under the idea that he won’t be back. In 341 plate appearances last season, Tabata hit .282/.342/.429 with a 118 wRC+. The problem with Tabata is that he doesn’t provide much power or speed.
After being acquired from the New York Mets, Byrd hit for an impressive .318/.357/.486 line with three home runs in 115 plate appearances. Unfortunately, Byrd won’t be back with the Pirates after signing a good deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. So who will the Pirates deploy in right field? Keep reading to take a look at some of the possibilities!
5. Jose Tabata/Andrew Lambo Platoon
Jose Tabata and Andrew Lambo would be the safe, inexpensive route to go if the Pittsburgh Pirates decide to not spend on a free agent or trade acquisition. If they decide to stay in-house, it will be because top prospect Gregory Polanco is on the verge of becoming their everyday right fielder. Tabata had a very underrated 2013 season, hitting .282/.342/.429 with an 118 wRC+ in 341 plate appearances. Lambo struggled a bit in his MLB debut, hitting .233/.303/.400 with a 98 wRC+ in very limited action. His upside is immense, however -- Lambo hit 32 home runs in the minor leagues last season.
4. Jaff Decker
You're probably thinking "Who is Jaff Decker?" Well, I'm here to tell you. The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Decker from the San Diego Padres in mid-November. He is a first baseman/right fielder that has shown a very good ability to get on base. In 415 plate appearances in Triple-A last season, Decker hit .286/.381/.443 while walking in 13.3 percent of his trips to the plate.
3. Gregory Polanco
This one is a long shot. Gregory Polanco is the Pittsburgh Pirates' top positional prospect, and he is very close to being MLB-ready. He hasn't spent much time at Triple-A, but he showed great plate discipline in Double-A in 2013. Last season, Polanco hit .263/.354/.407 while walking in 12.6 percent of his plate appearances and striking out in 12.6 percent as well.
Polanco has tons of potential. He can be a great all-around player with great speed, above-average power and amazing defense in the outfield.
2. Free Agent
The Pittsburgh Pirates could choose to go the free agent route, but it could be too expensive for their liking. Some of the top free agent outfielders include Jacoby Ellsbury, Nelson Cruz, Curtis Granderson and Shin-Soo Choo. Again, free agency may be too difficult for the Pirates to compete in to actually sign a top outfielder.
1. Trade Acquisition
Could the Pittsburgh Pirates swing a deal for a top outfielder? They have the prospects to move if they decide to make a blockbuster trade. Could Giancarlo Stanton be available? It's unlikely, but the Bucs could surely find an upgrade on the trade market if that is the route they choose to take.