As we sit about a month and a half from pitchers and catchers reporting, the Pittsburgh Pirates still have a major hole to fill: a left-handed hitting first baseman.
A natural outfielder, Lambo started to get a look at first base during winter ball and should get a long look at the position during spring training.
After a year in which he posted a .282/.347/.574 line, leading minor-league players with 32 home runs while putting up a .922 OPS, he should be the guy the Bucs turn to, at least initially.
If Lambo can get acclimated to fielding the position he makes a ton of sense. He has played 41 games in the minors at first so it is something that should be somewhat familiar to him.
He got only 33 plate appearances last season with the big club and hit .233/.303/.400 with one home run in a small sample size.
I do worry about his high strikeout rate, but Lambo is the Bucs’ best option right now.
I would rather reward a guy in-house who put up good numbers in the minors than give up anything for a guy like Davis or some other, who will offer nothing more than a Jones-like impact at best.
There are other plusses with starting the season with Lambo at first base rather than taking a shot on another guy.
If things don’t work out, the Pirates have the resources to acquire a better option during the season.
Quite simply, the market might be better in June or July than it is right now. There is simply nothing available right now that will help this team.
Then there is the fact that a platoon with Sanchez just may work out nicely. Clint Hurdle will be able to keep Lambo away from tough lefties and given enough at bats, Lambo’s power could come to play nicely at PNC Park.
Given the options available, Lambo is currently the best one.
It’s worth noting that he is expected to compete for the right field job in spring training, but being able to play first base could give Lambo an edge in making the team.
Even if he wins the right field job and the Pirates have to look elsewhere for an upgrade at first base, I would expect Lambo to switch positions anyway when Gregory Polanco is deemed ready to come up.
The idea of Lambo starting the season at first base may not be a popular decision among Pirates fans.
But right now he is the best option and a Sanchez-Lambo platoon could become a reality before you know it.