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Perrotto: Under-The-Radar Outfielder Pirates Should Pursue

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Pittsburgh Pirates, Jesus Sanchez

There is a funny story about Joe Namath when the then-Jets quarterback was the most eligible bachelor in New York.

It was nearly closing time at the bar when Namath started walking out with an ordinary-looking woman on his arm. One of the bar patrons was surprised that a more attractive lady was not accompanying Namath.

Namath’s response was priceless.

“It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and Miss America ain’t walking through that door,” Namath purportedly said.

That’s how I expect the Pittsburgh Pirates general manager to act between now and the July 30 trade. Despite their 36-38 record, the Pirates have a shot at the playoffs in the mediocre National League.

There has been much talk lately about how the Pirates would be dangerous if they get to the postseason because they have an October rotation that could include Paul Skenes, Jared Jones, Mitch Keller and left-hander Bailey Falter.

I won’t argue the “puncher’s chance” theory. But it is hard to see the Pirates reaching the playoffs without adding another hitter or two while also getting more offensive production from some of their current players such as Ke’Bryan Hayes, Jack Suwinski, Jared Triolo and Henry Davis.

I advocate teams trying to win any chance they get. Winning is the objective of competitive sports. It should be the goal for every professional franchise, even one with losing records in 27 of the last 31 seasons.

So, I think the Pirates should try to improve their roster one worthy of postseason contention. However, I would be willing to bet that Cherington won’t make that splash move that Pirates fans have been hoping for since he was hired following the 2019 season. Especially because, internally, the Pirates believe they have a much more legitimate chance of making the postseason next year.

One of the names floated as a trade target on talk radio and social media is New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso. It would certainly be cool to see the Pirates be able to add the Polar Bear to their lineup.

However, Alonso would be a rental player as he is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. For a team that isn’t even at .500, it would not make sense for the Pirates to give up significant prospects for two months of any player, at least this year.

I don’t see the Pirates as major players for Chicago White Sox outfielders Luis Robert Jr. and Eloy Jimenez. The asking price is reportedly high and both players have injury histories, though both are talented.

Los Angeles Angels left fielder Taylor Ward has also been connected to the Pirates in trade rumors along with Oakland Athletics designated hitter Brent Rooker. However, both are right-handed hitters, and a lefty bat would be a better fit in both the Pirates’ current lineup and at PNC Park.

There is an intriguing left-handed hitter reportedly on the market who could be a good buy-low option with upside. That is the Miami Marlins right fielder Jesus Sanchez.

The 26-year-old is hitting just .243/.290/.379 with six home runs in 66 games this season. Sanchez has yet to have a breakout at the major-league level despite being in his fifth season and homering 14 times in 64 games as a rookie in 2021.

However, a change of scenery might help Sanchez. Scouts I’ve talked to still believe he has a chance to be an above-average major-league player with his power potential and athleticism. He also cannot become a free agent until following the 2027 season.

The Marlins are already out of contention and do not have any firm long-term options in the middle infield. Veteran shortstop Tim Anderson is on a one-year contract and second baseman Otto Lopez was a waiver claim in April from the San Francisco Giants.

The Marlins were interested in young Pirates infielders Ji Hwan Bae and Liover Peguero when Pittsburgh nearly traded for Miami right-hander Edward Cabrera during spring training. Both those players’ futures with the Pirates are murky now that Nick Gonzales has emerged as the regular second baseman.

The Marlins also like pitching prospect Braxton Ashcraft, who was recently promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis from Double-A Altoona. It would be difficult to see the Pirates trading someone like him in a deal for a somewhat unproven player like Sanchez.

Perhaps the Pirates could entice the Marlins to trade Sanchez in a deal for either Bae or Peguero and left-handed pitching prospect Hunter Barco, their second-round draft pick in 2022 who is at High-A Greensboro.

It would be worth exploring because Miss America ain’t likely to walk through one of the PNC Park gates.

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