The Pirates have announced that they've signed right-handed first baseman / outfielder Corey Hart to a one-year deal. Hart will reportedly make $2.5 million, plus the possibility of another $2.5 million in incentives. To clear space on the 40-man roster, they designated reliever Preston Guilmet for assignment.
After Clint Hurdle said last week that Pedro Alvarez would be the Bucs' everyday first baseman, this is a nice surprise; there was no reason for the Pirates to try to start Alvarez against lefties, and now they have a good excuse not to. I advocated for the Pirates to sign Hart last year, health permitting, which would have been a disaster -- he hit .203/.271/.319 for the Mariners after missing the 2013 season due to knee issues. He also had hamstring troubles last year. For the coming season, though, he's another year removed from the knee problems, and he won't be counted on to do much more than hit lefties. Which is cool, because if he's healthy, he can do that -- he has a career .290/.361/.504 line against them. (Historically, he's good against righties, too. He won't have more than a part-time role with the Pirates, but if he can regain a significant percentage of his previous abilities, he could be useful pinch-hitting against right-handed pitchers as well as lefties.)
Of course, Gaby Sanchez also hit lefties well, and given Hart's serious health issues, there's probably an even better case to be made that he's over the hill than there was with Sanchez. But Hart probably has some upside that Sanchez didn't -- he was a very good player as recently as 2012. And while Hart is a defensive liability in the outfield, he at least gives the Pirates the small tactical edge of being able to play there if needed.
Anyway, if this doesn't work out, no big deal -- the Pirates can just drop Hart and eat the $2.5 million, which is practically nothing. If it works, the Pirates will get a cheap, effective bench piece who addresses a need.
As for Guilmet, he'd be a nice option for Triple-A, but otherwise, the Bucs aren't likely to miss him much. As the Pirates continue to DFA their long string of odd free-talent acquisitions, it's getting tiresome to write about them.