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Pirates trade rumors: Orioles could have interest in Matt Joyce

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles might have interest in outfielder and Pirates minor-league signee Matt Joyce, Rob Biertempfel tweets. Since Joyce is an Article XX(B) player, the Bucs have until tomorrow to decide whether to put him on their active roster. If they don't, they have to pay him a $100,000 assignment bonus with a June 1 opt-out.

If the Pirates were to trade Joyce to the Orioles, they likely wouldn't get anything significant in return, just as they didn't with Eric O'Flaherty, who went to the Braves this weekend. Dealing Joyce would simply be a way of avoiding the assignment bonus and giving an MLB veteran a path to a roster spot.

When the Pirates signed Joyce, it looked at least somewhat likely he would make the team as a fourth outfielder. Since then, he's hit for good power in Spring Training, although he only has seven hits in 35 at-bats. As Biertempfel notes, though, the Bucs don't really need a traditional fourth outfielder, since Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco play nearly every day and the team also has guys like Sean Rodriguez, Josh Harrison and Michael Morse to fill in where necessary.

It's also possible that the late addition of David Freese changed the Pirates' plan for their bench. Freese, of course, is a right-handed infielder while Joyce is a left-handed outfielder, but Freese's addition means that, when everyone gets healthy, there will be less of a role for Morse, who's signed to a guaranteed deal for significant money. Clearing the way for Morse to play a bit more outfield isn't an ideal solution, since he's terrible defensively in the outfield, but it might be one way to have both him and Freese on the team.