Should the Pittsburgh Pirates pursue Chris Carter?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have lacked a legitimate power threat in their lineup over the last few seasons. Could a recently designated former Milwaukee Brewer be an option in 2017?

It’s not often that a player who tied for the league lead in home runs gets designated for assignment, but that’s exactly what happened to Chris Carter after the Milwaukee Brewers signed Eric Thames to a multiyear deal. While there is still a chance that Milwaukee could work out a trade with another club, the fact that he was designated shows that interest was either low or nonexistent. If Milwaukee does not find a trade partner for Carter, should the Pirates pursue him?

The Case For Carter

When a player clubs 41 home runs and still finds himself off of a team’s 40 man roster, there must be more to the situation, which is surely the case with Carter. While he does possess outrageous power, Carter does strike out at a tremendous rate as well. He has struck out in over a third of his at-bats in every season since his rookie year in 2010. But he does draw a fair number of walks (76 in 549 at-bats in 2016) and posted a wRC+ of 112 last season, which is a little above average.

Last season the Pittsburgh Pirates clubbed 153 home runs, which only bested three other teams in the Senior Circuit. So for an organization that has lacked a real power threat lately, Carter could be the power bat the lineup so sorely needs. But fans would have to get used to him potentially striking out in well over a third of his at-bats. So unfortunately with Carter, his power comes at a cost. The Pirates ranked sixth in strikeouts last season, and Carter would assuredly put the team in the top five in 2017. He would essentially be a right handed version of Pedro Alvarez who is a better in the field.

The Case Against Carter

Besides his prodigious ability to swing and miss, there are other reasons Carter should be avoided. To begin with, Carter will probably be looking or a contract that guarantees him more than the $2.5 million he made last year. He earned $4.2 million with the Houston Astros in 2015 and considering he set career highs in HR and RBI last year, he’s going to look to profit off it, even if it’s just a one year deal.

The next two points kind of go hand in hand. Carter only played first base last year, even though he made appearances in the outfield earlier in his career. This indicates that Carter is not capable of playing the outfield, and considering the talent currently occupying Pittsburgh’s outfield, there would be no reason for him to play there. Because Carter only played first base for the Brewers last year, that means he would be joining an already crowded position. The team has Josh Bell, David Freese and John Jaso on their roster with Bell being the odds on favorite to be the starter at first when the team breaks camp. There simply would not be enough playing time to go around for all, unless the team decided to part one of them (i.e. Jaso).

So in the end, Carter does not seem like a good fit with Pittsburgh. While he does hit home runs, something the Pittsburgh Pirates desperately could use, he strikes out too much. Adding to that, the team has an up and coming switch hitter in Bell to take over at first. If Bell needs a day off or struggles, the team has right handed (Freese) and left handed (Jaso) options already on the roster. With the amount of money Carter would cost, the team would be better off putting it towards other areas the team needs to improve.

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