The Pirates have reportedly agreed with 1B/OF Daniel Nava on a minor league deal.
Source: #Pirates signing free-agent OF Daniel Nava to minor-league contract with invitation to major-league spring training. Expectation is that he might become part of LF platoon.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 6, 2018
Nava, who’ll be 35 in two weeks, first reached the majors at age 27 with Boston in 2010. He eventually had a big year for the Red Sox in 2013, his only year more or less as a regular, posting a 127 OPS+. He tailed off in 2014 and hit very little in limited roles in 2015-16. He bounced back last year with the Phillies, putting up a 301/393/421 line in 214 plate appearances. His playing time was limited by hamstring and back injuries, with the latter ending his season early. That bounceback was driven in part by a .357 BABIP, which is 32 points above his career average. In 589 major league games, he has a career line of 266/357/380.
Nava is a switch hitter, but he’s struggled badly against LHPs, with a career line of 211/296/293. He’s hit 281/374/404 against RHPs. Hopefully, Clint Hurdle will get the memo. Nava has played exactly one game in center in the majors, and just 53 (24 starts) at first, so he’s probably ticketed for the outfield corners. His fielding metrics, at least with UZR, have had some extreme ups and downs but average out to about average.
Despite the minor league contract, Nava probably is highly likely to make the team, as Matt Joyce did in 2016. A lot of us have speculated that the Pirates would look for a super-cheap veteran to fill their need for a left fielder and/or fourth outfielder. The extreme platoon split suggests Nava might do well in a platoon with Jordan Luplow, which would serve the additional purpose of relieving Clint Hurdle from the terrible burden of having to play a rookie regularly. The Pirates had good luck with Joyce. Outside of 2016, though, this front office’s track record with veteran role-players, apart from pitchers, has been abysmal. Nava also doesn’t have nearly the track record that Joyce had.