As of this moment, the Pittsburgh Pirates have four true outfielders on their 40-man roster. They include Bryan Reynolds, Gregory Polanco, Guillermo Heredia, and Jason Martin.
Other players like Kevin Kramer, Jose Osuna, JT Riddle, and even Erik Gonzalez can play in the outfield, but they are all more or less utility guys in general. More specifically, the Pirates have just one true centerfielder in Heredia. Reynolds and Martin can hold down that spot too, but relying on them to do so for long stretches in a season wouldn’t be the smartest plan. That said, GM Ben Cherington has said that he feels comfortable slotting Reynolds in as the everyday centerfielder. We’ll see.
When it comes down to it, out of all of those players listed above, only two (Reynolds and Polanco) are bona fide major league starters. At the very least, the Pirates need to add one more outfielder. Here are some of the remaining free agents.
Kevin Pillar: 2019 fWAR 1.5
At 31 years old, Pillar has been consistently good since 2015. Last season with the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants, he hit .259/.287/.432 with 21 home runs in 645 plate appearances. He also stole 14 bases. Juiced baseballs aside, his 21 home runs were a career high. Defensively, Pillar has taken a step back but is still solid. At this point in his career, Pillar would add solid veteran help in leading the young guys. He would also fill the hole in centerfield while providing below average offense (he has never had a wRC+ of 100). Out of all of the remaining free agent outfielders, Pillar makes the most logical sense for the Pirates. Furthermore, Cherington has a history with Pillar going back to their time in Toronto.
Yasiel Puig: 2019 fWAR 1.2
Puig is probably the flashiest remaining free agent outfielder on the market. Signing him would mean that Reynolds would be the everyday centerfielder. At 29 years old, Puig is still productive. Last season with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, he hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 dingers in 555 plate appearances. Puig would no doubt slot into the middle of the Pirates order and bring a certain energy to the club. Would things be a little bit awkward due the fact that he tried to fight the entire Pirates team last season? Maybe. But who cares! It would be fun.
Cameron Maybin: 2019 fWAR 1.6
Last season with the New York Yankees, Maybin was solid. In 269 plate appearances, he hit .285/.364/.494 with 11 home runs, a career high. Maybin can play some centerfield, and in my estimation, would split time there with Reynolds if he were signed. In 2019, Maybin had a career high hard hit rate of 37.7 percent. That rate his increased in every season since 2015. Out of the three options listed, Maybin’s ability to get on base is by far the most superior. His walk rate of 11.2 percent last season was higher than the walk rates of Puig and Pillar combined.
Other options (2019 fWAR)
- Jarrod Dyson (1.3)
- Rajai Davis (0.0)
- Leonys Martin (-0.6)
- Melky Cabrera (-0.7)
- Lonnie Chisenhall (We all know he didn’t play last year.)