The Pittsburgh Pirates finally made the big splash that fans have been waiting for all offseason! No, I’m only kidding, but they really did make a move on Monday to bolster their corner-infield depth. The Pirates claimed third baseman Brent Morel off of waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Prior to being claimed by the Jays in December, Morel had played his entire career in the Chicago White Sox organization. The move makes some sense for the Pirates, considering that behind Pedro Alvarez the organization has very little third base depth. The corresponding move to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Morel came later in the day when the Bucs designated shortstop Chase d’Arnaud for assignment.
Morel isn’t a very good baseball player. This certainly isn’t a move to get excited about by any means, but at least it’s a move I suppose. In 669 MLB plate appearances, Morel has a .229/.276/.333 triple-slash line with a 62 wRC+. However, he has a career 0.5 UZR and 0.2 UZR/150, so he is slightly above average defensively at the hot corner. Morel, a right-handed hitter, is better against southpaws with a .246/.307/.377 line and a 85 wRC+. However, even against lefties, he’s still a below-average hitter. The upside just isn’t that high with Morel.
I can see Morel battling with Josh Harrison for the final roster spot in Spring Training, but it’s hard to see a scenario in which Morel would win that battle. Other than being a better defensive player, Morel doesn’t do anything better than Harrison. Morel is mainly a third baseman while Harrison plays almost every position that isn’t catcher. He even came in as an emergency pitcher for the Pirates last season, but that obviously doesn’t mean anything. Harrison plays in the outfield and he plays every infield position except for catcher and first base. His versatility and slightly better impact at the plate will be the reason Harrison wins the final roster spot for the Bucs.