As announced by the team, the Pirates claimed third baseman Brent Morel from the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon. While a corresponding roster move will be upcoming later tonight, grabbing the 26-year-old Morel indicates that the Bucs are unsatisfied with their hot corner options behind starter Pedro Alvarez.
UPDATE (4:45 p.m.) - SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports infielder Chase d’Arnaud has been designated for assignment to make room for Morel. D’Arnaud, 27, missed much of last season with a torn thumb ligament and hasn’t played for the Pirates since 2012.
Morel has played in 194 MLB games over the past four seasons, all with the Chicago White Sox. However, he’s appeared in just 47 in the past two years. The Jays claimed him from the Sox in December, but he obviously didn’t fit in Toronto’s plans.
Morel could find a home in Pittsburgh, though. Gaby Sanchez and Clint Barmes have been taking grounders at third in Bradenton, and Josh Harrison may be a tenured Pirate, but he’s no lock to stick in the major leagues for the long term.
To be fair, neither is Morel. The Californian has a career .609 OPS (63 OPS+), and although he has better numbers against left-handed pitchers (.684 OPS), they’re not enough to make him a clear Alvarez alternative against southpaws.
He is a fresh face, though, which will be sufficient to get him a few looks at third base at the start of the Grapefruit League schedule. The Pirates begin exhibition games Wednesday against the Yankees at McKechnie Field.
As far as Tuesday goes, Stolmy Pimentel (Team Black) opposes Joely Rodriguez (Gold) to start the nine-inning scrimmage, which will usher the big-league roster away from the Pirate City training complex for the remainder of the spring.
Notables on Team Black include top position prospect Gregory Polanco, Alen Hanson, Travis Ishikawa and Chris McGuiness. Team Gold will be led by Jose Tabata, Tony Sanchez, Andrew Lambo, Jaff Decker and Harrison. D’Arnaud was scheduled to play for Gold as well, but native South African Gift Ngoepe will man second base instead.