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Ben Cherington Says Pirates Looking to Add Outfielder

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Pittsburgh Pirates, Ji-Hwan Bae, Bryan Reynolds

Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington joined MLB Network’s ‘Hot Stove’ with hosts Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds live from the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.

Among the variety of topics that were discussed was the current state of the Pirates’ outfield, along with Henry Davis seeing the majority of his playing time come as a right fielder in 2023. Cherington says the Pirates are looking to add an outfielder this winter.

“We’d like to add to our outfield, also, this offseason,” Cherington said. “We’re working on a number of fronts across the team, both in free agency and trade.”

The Pirates’ current mix of outfielders on the 40-man roster includes Bryan Reynolds, Jack Suwinski, Joshua Palacios and Canaan Smith-Njigba. Ji-Hwan Bae and Connor Joe also spent time in the outfield, though they play multiple positions.

Davis, of course, is also in the outfield mix, but Cherington again reiterated that the Pirates still view the 2021 first-overall pick as a catcher.

“In the short-term, Henry is focused on catching this offseason. That’s where he’s doing his training,” Cherington said. “He’s going into spring training as a catcher. He’s gonna be in a position to compete for our team at that position.”

The Pirates could use a defensive upgrade in the outfield heading into the 2024 season. Last season, Pirates’ outfielders ranked 28th in the league with minus-24 defensive runs saved.

Pirates’ center fielders combined for minus-15 defensive runs saved in 2023, which also ranked 28th in baseball. Suwinski was tasked with manning center field the majority of the time last season, but he seems better suited for a corner spot. In 120 games in center last year, Suwinski posted minus-10 defensive runs saved.

There are a few free agent options who are capable defenders in center field. Kevin Kiermaier took home the fourth-career Gold Glove in his career after spending the season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Kiermaier was second among all center fielders last year with 18 defensive runs saved.

Another option who could be in play for the Pirates is Michael A. Taylor. Taylor was in the top 10 in defensive runs saved last year with five. For his career, he’s posted 69 defensive runs saved as a center fielder.

On the trade front, Houston Astros center fielder Jake Meyers is rumored to be available. Like with Kiermaier and Taylor, he has a reputation as a strong defender and appeared in a career-high 112 games last season.

As the Pittsburgh Pirates look to add an outfielder through either a free agent deal or trade, they have other areas that will need addressed. The two most pressing needs for the Pirates are rebuilding a depleted starting rotation and finding a solution at first base.

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