Weighing First Base Options for the Pirates

By Jason Shetler

Here are some of the first base options that the Pirates could explore if they decide to trade Pedro Alvarez and go with someone over Michael Morse.

Adam Lind: The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Adam Lind from the Toronto Blue Jays last offseason for Marco Estrada. Lind posted an .820 OPS with a 122 OPS+ in 149 games for the Brewers this season. He had a career year defensively, as he committed just four errors while putting up a 3.8 UZR. Lind will be owed $8 million in 2016 before he becomes a free agent. The Brewers always seem to need bullpen help, so perhaps the Pirates could entertain the idea of a Mark Melancon/Adam Lind swap.

James Loney: Prior to the 2014 season, the Pirates reportedly offered James Loney a three-year deal, but he chose to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Rays instead. Loney this year posted a .679 OPS with a -1.3 WAR. He was limited to only 104 games with a broken finger, so it certainly played a significant part. Loney however did hit for a .280 average, and struckout just 9% of the time. The Pirates wouldn’t have to trade a whole lot to obtain Loney. The problem is that he’s owed a little more than $9.5 million next season, which the Rays would have to take on majority of the remaining salary for the Pirates to even be interested.

Justin Morneau: The Pirates acquired Justin Morneau from the Minnesota Twins on the final day of August in 2013. The former AL MVP struggled in Pittsburgh, posting a .681 OPS. After winning the NL batting title in 2014 with the Colorado Rockies, Morneau dealt with a concussion and neck injury, and played in just 49 games this year. Despite the missed time, he still hit .301 with an .821 OPS. The Rockies declined their 2016 club option on Morneau, which was at $9 million. With Josh Bell expected to be up at some point next season, the Pirates would have to offer Morneau nothing more than a one-year contract.

Mike Napoli: Prior to 2013, Mike Napoli was one of the top position players on the open market. He inked a three-year deal with the Boston Red Sox worth $39 million. After being sellers this year, the Red Sox traded Napoli to the Texas Rangers. Combined with the two teams, he put up a .324 on base percentage, which doesn’t seem that high until you take into account his very good walk rate of 12%. On the defensive side, Napoli posted a .992 fielding percentage along with a 4.4 UZR, and was a finalist for the AL Gold Glove Award for first baseman. The Pirates would have the money to pay Napoli on a one-year deal, but there could be teams that would offer a two-year deal based on his defensive value.

Mitch Moreland: Mitch Moreland is coming off his best season offensively in 2015. In 132 games, Moreland batted .278 with an OPS of .812 and a 116 OPS+. Defensively, he had a .996 fielding percentage with a 4.2 UZR. Moreland enters this offseason in his final year of arbitration eligibility where he’s projected to make $5 million, which would be a real bargain with the season he had. Texas could look to acquire a closer for 2016, so there could be a match with the Pirates and Rangers involving Melancon and Moreland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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