Coming into the offseason in desperate need of increased production at first base, the Pirates have taken a step to address the issue.
Pittsburgh acquired Ji-Man Choi from the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday night in exchange for minor-league pitcher Jack Hartman. The news was announced on social media minutes after being reported by baseball writer Homin Lee.
Choi, 31, hit .233 with 22 doubles, 11 home runs, and 52 RBI in a Rays uniform last year, his seventh major-league season.
He bounded around between the Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, and Milwaukee Brewers following his April 2016 debut before finding a home in Tampa the past five years.
Choi totaled 52 homers and 203 runs driven in while hitting .245 as a member of the Rays organization and helped guide the team to the 2020 World Series. He also has defensive experience in left field and previously batted as the designated hitter.
The lefty batter is a career .239 hitter and recorded a .774 OPS in 486 games. Choi struggled mightily during the season’s final three months following a .310/.405/.479 slash line in June. He hit .205 in July (83 at-bats) .109 in August (46), and .156 in September (45) in 174 total at-bats.
Choi is not the only Pirate hailing from Korea.
so the Pirates now have three Korean guys, all in the infield positions. Ji Man Choi, Ji Hwan Bae and Hoy Park. might as well as start selling some Korean food at the PNC Park— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) November 10, 2022
The Pirates deployed a number of first basemen in 2022 including Michael Chavis, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Zac Collins, and others in an endless cycle of poor production from the corner infield spot.
Additional moves could come to the rescue, including possibly experimenting with a prospect changing positions, but the Pirates’ quickness to spring on an available first baseman is a decent start.