By Jason Shetler
The Pirates started off the 2014 season with Travis Snider and Jose Tabata in a right field platoon, but both struggled early on. Josh Harrison’s breakout year got underway, as he began to receive most of the playing time as the right fielder. Harrison was then moved to third base following the midseason call up of their #1 prospect Gregory Polanco. After putting up staggering numbers against AAA pitching, Polanco wasn’t productive in his rookie season with the Pirates. Fortunately, Snider had red hot numbers in the second half, posting an .880 OPS, this after just a .660 OPS in the first half.
Despite Polanco’s subpar rookie campaign, the Pirates still had every intention of having him as the starting right fielder heading into 2015. Snider was slated to be the fourth outfielder. With Andrew Lambo in the mix, the Pirates decided to sell high on Snider around this time last offseason. He was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for pitching prospect Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later. On February 20th, the Pirates obtained another pitching prospect Steven Brault to complete the trade. There was much criticism surrounding the deal, as people viewed Snider as a good bat off the bench, as well as a fallback option in case Polanco were to scuffle again. As it turned out, Snider was unable to build off his second half success in 2014, as he posted just a .659 OPS for the Orioles before getting released by them in mid-August. He returned to the Pirates on a minor league deal, and was a September call up. Snider was non-tendered this offseason. From the Pirates side of the deal, Tarpley and Brault both pitched outstanding, as Tarpley had a 2.48 ERA in 20 starts for Low A West Virginia while Brault put up a 2.43 ERA in 28 starts combined for High A Bradenton and AA Altoona.
On Saturday, Snider agreed to sign a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals. The Orioles were hoping that the once highly touted prospect of the Toronto Blue Jays would finally put it altogether in 2015, but it just didn’t happen. Meanwhile, Tarpley and Brault are currently ranked the #23 and #24 prospects respectively in the Pirates system according to MLB Pipeline. Tarpley in particular has the higher ceiling, as his stuff could make him an impact prospect before arriving to Pittsburgh.