By Jason Shetler
With the trade deadline now three weeks away, the Pirates will look to see what improvements need to be made. Last week, I did a post about Bud Norris being a trade candidate for the Pirates to look at, if they decide to add a starter to the rotation. One other possible need for the Pirates would be in right field. The Pirates began the year having Travis Snider and Jose Tabata share the right field job. It seemed to be going well, until Tabata landed on the disabled list. At that point, Snider got more playing time and just struggled, even against righties. It got so bad for Snider, that even Brandon Inge got to see some time out there. Since Tabata’s return from the DL, he’s played right field majority of the time and has done decent so far. There are most however who think that Tabata still may not be the answer in right, just because of his reputation to underachieve. Here are some right field candidates that the Pirates could consider come the trade deadline.
Alex Rios: It’s not too often that the Chicago White Sox are a seller, but that’s the case this year, as one of the names they could shop is Alex Rios. The 32-year old Rios is having another good season, with a .277/.330/.442 line, along with a 104 OPS+. He also can still swipe bases, as he currently has 19. Defensively this season, his fielding percentage is above league average. Rios is due to make $12.5M next year, and has a $13.5M club option for 2015.
Michael Cuddyer: Cuddyer could certainly be expendable, if the Colorado Rockies fall out of contention within the next few weeks. This year’s Home Run Derby participant is second in the National League in hitting with a .337 average. He’s also having a career year in terms of OPS (.975) and OPS+ (149). He has however continued to be a below average fielder in right. Cuddyer is set to make $10.5M next season before becoming a free agent.
Michael Morse: Morse’s name has been mentioned to a certain degree. This season, he’s batting .251 along with a .767 OPS and a 117 OPS+. Morse is recovering from a quadriceps injury that he suffered on June 21st. Despite the pretty good offensive numbers, he is currently a replacement level player, thanks in large part to a – 1.6 defensive WAR. Morse this year is making $6.75M, and becomes a free agent after the season.
Norichika Aoki: With the Milwaukee Brewers in seller mode this season, one name that should be mentioned is Norichika Aoki. The 31-year-old native of Japan is hitting .298, and has an OPS+ of 103. He also shows the ability to draw walks, with a .366 on-base percentage. His .994 fielding percentage is well above the league average for NL right fielders (.985). Aoki has a very friendly contract, as he’s making $1.25M this season. He’ll have a $1.5M club option for next season, and doesn’t become arbitration eligible until 2015.
Nate Schierholtz: Out of all the right field candidates, Chicago Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz seems to be mentioned the most. The 29-year old Schierholtz is currently batting .275 with an .840 OPS and a 125 OPS+. In terms of fielding percentage in right field, he’s been above average for his career, but this season he’s been slightly below average. Schierholtz this year is making $2.25M, and will be arbitration eligible for a third time next season.