The Pittsburgh Pirates were able to enjoy their dream outfield for just four games before Gregory Polanco strained his hamstring landing him on the DL. The squad is once again pressed for outfield help.
With Polanco’s status week-to-week, it is uncertain when he will return. Even if the team puts together a playoff push upon his return, Starling Marte would be ineligible for the playoffs due to his suspension. The Pirates need another outfielder. He doesn’t need to be a stud. He needs to be capable. Jose Osuna and Adam Frazier are not great options. Here is a short list of fairly cheap outfield help that could help the Pirates.
Currently on the Baltimore Orioles, Smith is hitting a modest .261/.342/.457. He has 11 home runs, and 12 doubles is 260 plate appearances. Smith brings some pop from the left side and would slot nicely in the six hole until Polanco returns. His hard hit rate of 35.6 percent is the second highest of his career.
In terms of defense, Smith isn’t great. He isn’t horrible either. This year, Smith has -5 defensive runs saved and an ultimate zone rating of 2.3 in right field. For reference, Osuna has -7 DRS and a UZR of -3.6 in right field. Smith has played almost 300 more innings in right field than Osuna.
If the Pirates were to go after Smith, the price would not be high at all. Smith is a free agent at the end of the year so he would cost a C-level prospect at most.
Cabrera is enjoying a nice season with the Chicago White Sox as he is currently slashing a line of .292/.335/.437. He has 13 home runs and 16 doubles in 411 plate appearances. Cabrera is quite the free swinger as he’s drawn just 25 walks. With the Pirates, Cabrera could be a nice top of the order guy due to his ability to collect hits.
Cabrera has definitely lost step. He has no stolen bases this year. That being said, although he is a below average outfielder, he is experienced. In 752 innings played in the outfield this season, Cabrera has -5 DRS and a UZR of -4.7. He does have a strong arm.
If the Pirates were to acquire Cabrera, it would be mostly for the bat. His bat would be an upgrade over the likes of Osuna, Frazier, and John Jaso. With probably about 6-7 million dollars left on the final year of his contract, Cabrera would likely cost less in prospects if the Pirates chose to eat the money.
Once a hated Brewer, Gomez has been hidden in the American League for a few years. This year with the Texas Rangers, Gomez is hitting .245/.324/.459 with 13 home runs and 14 doubles. He has struck out 90 times and walked 24 times in 292 plate appearances. His K percentage is a high 30.8 percent. That being said, he can still produce at the age of 31.
Defensively, Gomez is still pretty solid in centerfield. He has two DRS and a UZR of 0.0. If he were traded to the Pirates, he would have better defensive numbers playing in a corner spot. Travis Snider is no longer a Pirate so tensions would be lower if he came to Pittsburgh. He and Gerrit Cole may have to call a truce though.
Jokes aside, Gomez signed a 1-year $11.5 million contract this winter so he is a free agent after this season. If the Pirates paid off the rest of his contract this year, they wouldn’t have to part with any key prospects.
Who should it be?
Out of these three options, I would go with Gomez. He has the best glove. He isn’t nearly the offensive player he was in years past but can still handle the bat. If chemistry is an issue, just remember that these are major league players and Gomez would be merely a rental.
The Pirates saved about five or six million dollars from Marte and Jung-Ho Kang’s missed time. Why not use the money on a rental? None of these options will break the bank. None of these options will break the farm system either. The Pirates biggest need all year has been an outfielder. They haven’t played more than 20 games with three true outfielders this year. All three of the options above have veteran experience and could help the team both starting and coming off the bench.