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Pirates sign outfielder Matt Joyce to minor league deal

Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Pitchers and catchers may have reported, but the Pirates continue to shape their roster, as Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports is reporting that they have added veteran corner outfielder Matt Joyce on a minor league contract. The 31-year-old Joyce is a pull-oriented left-handed batter who has compiled a .242/.335/.426 batting line with a 112 OPS+ across eight major league seasons with the Tigers, Rays, and Angels, including an appearance on the All-Star team in 2011. Generally a productive supporting player, he experienced a sudden and dramatic reversal of fortune in 2015 following an offseason trade to Los Angeles (of Anaheim), batting only .174 with minimal power in 284 plate appearances and missing almost all of the second half following a concussion sustained in an outfield collision with Erick Aybar. Joyce did make a better showing of himself in winter ball by posting a .301/.436/.500 batting line as the best hitter on the Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League. The Pirates have signed other players such as Radhames Liz on the strength of a strong winter ball performance, and it is possible that the same is true in this case.

In the event that Joyce is able to retain his offseason improvements and return to his prior form, he could be a very useful addition to the Pirates roster in 2016. He does come with some tactical limitations, including a huge platoon split (.253/.348/.447 vs. RHP, but only .180/.252/.302 vs. LHP), but he's a tolerable defender in both outfield corners and he has the potential to be a useful weapon off the bench. The Pirates have added several other left-handed corner outfielders this offseason, including Jake Goebbert and Danny Ortiz, and it seems likely that at a minimum Joyce would need to emerge as the best option from among that group in order to earn consideration for a spot on the final roster.