By Jason Shetler
Prior to the 2009 season, Andrew Lambo was a Baseball America Top 50 prospect while with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was their #1 prospect when the season ended. Things were looking up for him until May of 2010. Major League Baseball handed Lambo a 50 game suspension due to testing positive for a banned substance. At the 2010 trade deadline, the Dodgers were in search of bullpen help, as they acquired now retired reliever Octavio Dotel in exchange for Lambo and pitcher James McDonald.
Lambo struggled for the rest of 2010, as well as the majority of the 2011 season. He then missed most of 2012 with a wrist injury. In 2013, Lambo was able to get back on track in a big way, as he combined to hit 32 home runs along with a .922 OPS for AA Altoona and AAA Indianapolis, and was named the Pirates Minor League Player of the Year. He made his Pirates debut that year in August. After giving Garrett Jones a non-tender and not re-signing Justin Morneau, the Pirates gave Lambo an opportunity in Spring Training of 2014 to be in a first base platoon with Gaby Sanchez. Unfortunately for Lambo, he struggled badly to the point that non-roster invite Travis Ishikawa was awarded the position. Lambo went back to Indianapolis and was productive again where he posted a .952 OPS. This past season, he made the Pirates Opening Day roster as a reserve, but recorded just one hit in 25 at-bats before missing the rest of the year with plantar fasciitis.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Pirates handle Lambo going into 2016. He does have options remaining, so he’ll likely start out with Indianapolis. With the Pirates looking to upgrade the bench in free agency or by trade, as well as having other internal options now, Lambo looks to have fallen out of favor. It might be in the Pirates best interest to package Lambo in a deal along with Pedro Alvarez or Mark Melancon just for another team to give him an opportunity.