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With Andrew McCutchen gone, some options to fill vacancy in Pirates’ outfield

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Christopher Horner
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen watches his first two-run home run head out of the ballpark during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday at PNC Park. (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)
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Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, top right, celebrates with teammates after a win against the Giants on Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Francisco.
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Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen hits a three-run home run off of San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain during the second inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Monday, July 24, 2017.
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Christopher Horner
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen acknowledges the crowd as he receives a standing ovation after hitting his second home run during the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday at PNC Park. (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)
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Christopher Horner
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen celebrates with third-base coach Nick Leyva after hitting his second two-run homer Sunday, July 8, 2012, against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park. McCutchen enters the All-Star break with 18 home runs. (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)
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Christopher Horner
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen signs autographs for fans Friday July 6, 2012, before a game against San Francisco at PNC Park. (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)
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Seattle Mariners Jarrod Dyson adjusts his batting gloves before an at-bat in a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Seattle. The Mariners won the game 7-6. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
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Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Cardinals' Jon Jay scores past Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli during the third inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Pirates Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, at PNC Park.
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Baltimore Orioles' Seth Smith runs to first base during a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Phil Long)
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Jordan Luplow rounds the bases after hitting his first major league home run during the eighth inning against the Reds Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Sean Rodriguez celebrates his solo home run during the second inning against the Dodgers on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at PNC Park.

Trading Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants created a vacancy in the Pirates outfield.

Filling the void in center field will be easy as Starling Marte will move there from left field. Gregory Polanco likely will slide from right field to left. So, who plays right field?

It won’t be top outfield prospect Austin Meadows, at least not right away. A team source said Meadows is ticketed for Triple-A Indianapolis “even if he hits .900 in spring training.” Meadows has battled hamstring injuries and must prove he can stay healthy for a full season.

The Pirates do have options:


Jarrod Dyson

Age: 33

Bats/throws: Left/right

2017 team and stats: Seattle Mariners, 111 games, .251/.324/350, five home runs, 28 stolen bases, 2.6 WAR

2017 salary: $2.8 million

2018 projected cost: two-year/$12 million

Why him: Dyson has superb speed — even as he heads toward his mid-30s, he’s faster than 93 percent of big leaguers, according to StatCast — and has notched double-digit steals in seven straight seasons. With a decent career .325 on-base percentage, Dyson could be a good fit at the top of the batting order.

Why not: Speed can evaporate quickly, and Dyson missed time toward the end of last season due to leg injuries. That might make even a two-year investment too risky for the Pirates’ conservative front office.


Jon Jay

Age: 32

Bats/throws: Left/left

2017 team and stats: Chicago Cubs, 141 games, .296/.374/.375, two HRs, six SBs, 1.1 WAR

2017 salary: $8 million

2018 projected cost: one year/$10 million

Why him: Jay is experienced and knows the NL Central, having played the first six years of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. His numbers last season were his best since 2014.

Why not: Even a modest increase of his previous year’s salary could make Jay too pricey for the bottom-line Pirates.


Seth Smith

Age: 35

Bats/throws: Left/left

2017 team and stats: Baltimore Orioles, 111 games, .258/.340..433, 13 HRs, two SBs, 0.3 WAR

2017 salary: $7 million

2018 projected cost: one year/$7 million

Why him: The Pirates might be able to get him at a bargain rate if Smith stays on the market into February. He still can be counted on to reach double digits in home runs: He has gone deep at least 12 times in eight of the past nine seasons.

Why not: Defensively, he is adequate at best, although Marte could help cover some of his ground.


Jordan Luplow

Age: 24

Bats/throws: Right/right

2017 team and stats: Pirates, 27 games, .205/.276/.385, three HRs, 0 SBs, minus-0.5 WAR

2017 salary: MLB minimum (pro-rated $535,000)

2018 cost: MLB minimum ($545,000)

Why him: Luplow has decent power potential. He probably worked through all his jitters during his stint in the majors last year.

Why not: He needs more seasoning. Luplow took just 254 at-bats at Double-A last season before being rushed to Indy, where he got a mere 160 at-bats. The sad state of outfield depth in the Pirates’ system forced him into action in the majors.


Sean Rodriguez

Age: 32

Bats/throws: Right/right

2017 team and stats: Pirates and Atlanta Braves, 39 games, .168/.255/.274, three HRs, 0 SBs, minus-0.4 WAR

2017 salary: $5.75 million

2018 cost: $5.75 million

Why him: SeanRod has a good glove, no matter where he plays. He’s familiar with tracking balls in PNC Park’s oddly shaped outfield. His offensive numbers should shoot up toward their usual levels now that Rodriguez has fully recovered from his January 2017 car accident.

Why not: Rodriguez would be part of a platoon with Adam Frazier and perhaps even Josh Harrison (assuming he’s not traded). The Pirates haven’t gotten much out of that kind of a setup in the past.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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