The Pittsburgh Pirates have swung their first big move of the offseason and it addresses a major need.
The Pirates have acquired first baseman Ji-Man Choi from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league righty Jack Hartman.
Choi, 31, appeared in 113 games for the Rays last season. He hit .233 with a .341 on-base percentage and a .729 OPS (115 wRC+). Choi recorded 22 doubles, 11 home runs and drove in 52 runs on the year.
Choi has spent the last five seasons in Tampa Bay and has established himself as a steady producer at the plate.
The native of Incheon, South Korea, owns an OPS of .773, good for a wRC+ of 116 in seven seasons in the big leagues. In 486 games, Choi has hit .239 with a .345 OBP, 61 home runs and 225 RBIs.
In addition to the Rays, Choi has played for the Angels, Yankees and Brewers.
Choi has spent 348 career games defensively at first base for his career, giving the Bucs a regular at the position. He owns a .994 fielding percentage and minus-five defensive runs saved at first base in his career.
First base was an area that general manager Ben Cherington said the Pirates needed to address this offseason. Michael Chavis received the bulk of the playing time at the position last year but was let go at the end of the season.
A handful of players such as Yoshi Tsutsugo, Josh VanMeter and others all received reps at first base but did combined for a well-below league-average showing at the plate.
The Pirates were last in the league with a .206 average and a .601 OPS from their first baseman a season ago.
Choi is in his final season of arbitration and MLB Trade Rumors projects the left-handed hitter for a $4.5M salary. He will be a free agent next offseason.
Hartman was selected by the Pirates in the fourth round of the 2020 MLB Draft out of Appalachian State University.
The right-hander went 0-1 with a 6.27 ERA, 16 walks and 19 strikeouts in 18.2 innings with Class-A Bradenton this season.
Additionally, the Pirates have reinstated RHPs Colin Holderman, Blake Cederlind, Yerry De Los Santos and Max Kranick as well as outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba from the 60-day injured list.
Cederlind, along with fellow pitchers Peter Solomon, Beau Sulser, Eric Stout and catchers Jason Delay and Zack Collins were outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Stout and Collins have elected free agency.