It was never a question whether Jared Triolo was going to be a good defender. He won the minor league gold glove in 2021 for 3B, his defensive ability is perhaps second only to, at any position in the organization, the masterful Ke’Bryan Hayes.
The question was his bat. Outside of his 15 home run season at high A Greensboro, which likely had something to do with the bandbox nature of NewBridge Bank Park, there has been little game power as far as the long ball goes. There is little reason to think there ever will be. Yet he continued to steadily produce in MiLB, .849 OPS in Greensboro in 2021, then .795 in Altoona, and .829 this year in AAA Indianapolis.
He kept putting the ball in play, was drawing walks and was able to keep the strikeouts down. Leading some to wonder about a potential MLB role. A small problem with that was the guy they gave 70 million dollars to at the MLB level.
Hayes obviously wasn’t going anywhere, so Triolo started playing different positions. 2B, SS, even a few games in CF. But when Hayes went down in late June with a back injury that has plagued him across several seasons, Triolo got his chance.
From the June 28 debut through being optioned on August 18 Triolo hit .273 with an OBP of .350 across 137 plate appearances. Call it good situational hitting or a knack for a timely knock, he had 16 RBI in 36 games. The slugging wasn’t quite what you would hope. Only .314, with just 3 XBH, but he displayed the exact same patient, contact oriented approach that he has built his successful MiLB career off of.
When Hayes returned at the start of August, Triolo still played 3B a fair bit as they eased Ke’Bryan back into the fold, but he also played some 2B. He performed adequately at the keystone, as one would expect from someone as talented defensively as Triolo is.
He was optioned down as the corresponding move when Ji-Hwan Bae returned from the 10-day-IL. Since then, the Pirates have called up Vinny Capra when Henry Davis went on the IL and recently, when rosters expanded, Miguel Andujar was re-added to the 40-man roster and placed on the now 28-man roster.
Capra, 27, is the quintessential AAAA non-prospect, a utility INF drafted in the 20th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018. He didn’t have his “breakout” campaign until age 24 when he put up a .945 OPS in 74 games repeating the AA level. While he spent a large amount of time on the IL these past few seasons and did of course miss a season of MiLB in 2020, the Blue Jays evidently did not think much of him.
He was traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh for C Tyler Heineman on April 30th. Who carries an OPS of .562 through bits and pieces of 4 MLB seasons and has gotten just 22 ABs with Toronto.
This is Capra’s second stint with the Pirates and his third in MLB. He is hitting .167 and has been worth -0.1 bWAR (0 fWAR).
Miguel Andujar is on MLB chance number.... wow, does anybody actually know? Take a peek at his transactions page and see if you can keep track. After blasting 27 home runs on his way to a ROTY runner up campaign in 2018, he tore his labrum the following year. Missing all but a handful of games.
Since then, he’s been a human pinball, bouncing back and forth between the majors and minors. Receiving numerous chances in 20’, 21’ and 22’ before finally being DFA’d by the Yankees late last season.
Claimed off waivers by the Pirates, he posted an OPB of just .275 while playing some pretty awful defense. He did not make the opening day roster this spring. This is his second stint in MLB this season, he has been DFA’d, gone unclaimed and been outrighted to AAA twice this year. Every single team in the league said no.
His AAA line doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter that he’s hit a double and a homerun since he got called up. He is still the exact same player. In the end, the result will be the same. At least as long as he’s taking swings like this.
But Capra has only appeared in 8 games, and Andujar plays corner OF, at least at AAA Triolo gets every day playing time, right?
Well, the Pirates middle infield is currently being manned by Alika Williams and Liover Peguero. While Peguero has impressed, slugging .450 with 6 home runs, Williams has not.
Playing most of the SS between the two, Williams has been very solid defensively but is putting up a rather abysmal slash line of .205/.283/.265. At times, it’s been shaky, but Peguero’s athleticism and range have led to him making some excellent plays at SS, which is where he spent the majority of his MiLB career.
The Pirates have put up with far worse than Peguero at SS this year for extended periods of time since Oneil Cruz went down. Tucapita Marcano and Rodolfo Castro were both absolutely dreadful there.
Peguero can man SS, freeing up 2B for Triolo, with Alika mostly on the bench. You could easily work Triolo’s off days around Hayes’ in a way that allows him to relieve Ke when he needs a day off.
Triolo has gotten some limited game action at 1B too. I promise you Alfonso Rivas isn’t part of any future for this team either.
If your concern is consistent starting reps, (which it shouldn’t be for a player who in all likelihood projects as a bench utility infielder) it would be incredibly easy to arrange for that. Given the current roster it’s what they should be doing.
As good as Peguero has been offensively Triolo has more than double the bWAR (0.7) and the same exact fWAR (0.6) in nearly the exact same amount of ABs and games played in MLB.
That’s over a 3 WAR per 162 pace. (or just slightly under depending on which version you use) Does that mean Triolo is a 3 WAR player? No, of course not, but it matters that it was the performance he gave while he was here.
He was punished for doing something that almost got him in the team’s top ten for WAR on the entire season in just 121 ABs.
The Pirates are a team that is currently giving chances to more castoffs, retreads, under performers and just plain bad players than I care to count. Could he come back and be completely uncompetitive offensively? Absolutely, but it sure was not what he did his first time around.
On a team with such a dearth of adequacy, Jared Triolo should have never left.
Should Jared Triolo be on the MLB roster?
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