The Pittsburgh Pirates are still searching for a fourth outfielder.
When news broke that Gregory Polanco would likely miss a large chunk of the 2019 season, Pittsburgh Pirates fans immediately started to wonder who would hold down the fort in right field.
Part of that picture was cleared up when Jordan Luplow was included in the trade to acquire Erik Gonzales. GM Neal Huntington further helped with his recent comments stating that the club would go to the market for a fourth outfield option.
Through industry sources, I can confirm that the Pirates have expressed interest in two ex-Cleveland Indians: Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer. The interest expressed in both were described to me as “serious, but preliminary.” With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at both of these options.
The left-handed bat
Chisenhall is a 30 year-old seven year veteran left-handed hitting 3B/RF. His best season came in 2014, a year in which he accumulated 533 plate appearances across 142 games. He posted a 117 wRC+ and 1.6 fWAR that season. Since then, Chisenhall has regressed to an average hitter, though he did put together a 127 wRC+ across 82 games in 2017.
2017 also saw the beginning of something of a sojourn for Chisenhall as injuries limited his effectiveness. This cumulated in a severe calf strain limiting him to just 29 games in 2018. Having eventually been shut down, Chisenhall will presumably be healthy enough to be ready for 2019.
The uncertainty surrounding Chisenhall should work in the Pirates favor, as a one year deal to rebuild value certainly seems viable. Being a career 39 percent pull/40.7 percent fly ball hitter at PNC Park might help Chisenhall do just that, helping the Pirates out of a jam along the way.
The right-handed bat
Guyer carries a considerably less stellar offensive profile than Chisenhall, though he did put up three straight seasons wit ha baseline of 105 wRC+/1.0 fWAR or higher from 2014 through 2016 in a part-time role. He has only totaled 413 plate appearances over the past two seasons, both below-average by most metrics.
Guyer has played at all three outfield positions in his career, yet he only carries a plus rating by DRS in left, where is a +6 defender for his career. He posted a -4 rating in RF over 2018, but was a +4 defender in 2017.
All in all, the picture painted is an average defender.
Guyer, too, can be had on a one-year deal at a rate that is likely to be even cheaper than that of Chisenhall. MLB has a glut of players of Guyer’s ilk, and the Pittsburgh Pirates would likely have their pick of the lot.
Though the club has started to tip its hand as to the type of player to be brought in, there figures to be even more names that will pop up in the team’s outfielder search as the Winter Meetings loom.