The Pittsburgh Pirates took their first big hit of the offseason when they lost free agent right fielder Marlon Byrd to the Philadelphia Phillies on a two-year deal worth a reported $16 million. With the MLB Free Agency period underway, the Pirates will certainly have to look for upgrades.
With Byrd out of the picture, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington will likely look to add a bat that can get the team by on the short-term.
There aren’t many big time outfielders to be had in this free agent class, as I highly doubt Huntington will chase the likes of Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo or Curtis Granderson, especially with prized prospect Gregory Polanco waiting in the wings.
One option Huntington has is to give Jose Tabata another look.
That wouldn’t be the worst idea since Tabata is coming off a pretty good 2013 season in which he hit .282 and put up a .771 OPS off the bench.
However the likely scenario is that Huntington adds a bat on a one-year deal to buy Polanco some more time.
Here is a look at five outfielders Huntington could target:
1. Mike Morse - With Morse you are always dealing with injury concerns, but when he is healthy he can supply a ton of power from a corner outfield spot. He has been injured and hasn’t put up the greatest numbers the past two seasons, but I look back to his 2011 season in Washington in which he hit .303 with a .910 OPS while hitting 31 dingers and driving in 95 runs.
That’s more production that the Pirates have had out of their right fielders in quite some time. Of course there is always the concern of if he will be healthy enough to get on the field enough. There are also some defensive concerns. However Huntington has had some luck with guys looking to bounce back and Morse could give then a big power bat that could replace Byrd’s production fairly easily.
The Phillies had shown interest in Morse but that was before they were able to ink Byrd to a deal.
2. Corey Hart - Hart has killed Pirates pitching in the past and even though the Brewers moved him to first base, he could be a suitable right fielder as well still. Being that the Bucs are in the market for a first baseman also, Hart could make sense there as well. Unfortunately he is another guy coming off an injury as he missed all of last season, but he still has a productive bat.
Hart hit 26 or more homers in each of the last three seasons he has played and will still likely be a pretty solid run producer. There are about a dozen teams currently checking in on him, including the Brewers, who will likely make a strong bid to re-sign him. The current thinking is that hart would receive a one-year deal in the $8 million range. Will that be too steep for the Pirates? It shouldn’t be if he is productive.