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