On Friday, the Pirates announced that they claimed outfielder Greg Allen off waivers from the New York Yankees. The 28-year-old was added to the Pirates 40-man roster and has a shot to crack the big league team after spring training breaks in March. So, who is the newest Pirate?
Allen was a sixth-round selection by Cleveland out of San Diego State in the 2014 MLB Draft. Allen quickly stood out in Cleveland’s minor league system as he climbed as high as the team’s ninth-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Allen rates as a plus-runner, a solid defender and has good batting skills though his power is limited.
The switch-hitting Allen spent parts of seven seasons with Cleveland before being traded to the San Diego Padres in an eight-player swap during last year’s trade deadline that also sent right-hander Mike Clevinger to the Friars. Allen was again traded just five months later to the Yankees for James Reeves.
Allen appeared in 15 games for the Yankees in 2021 and put up an .849 OPS with four doubles, a triple and five steals. Allen, who stands exactly six feet tall, has played sparingly in parts of five years in the big leagues. For his career, Allen has managed a .655 OPS with 37 steals (in 43 attempts) in 236 career games. For his minor league career, he owns a .281/.385/.390 slash with just shy of 200 steals.
Outside of his speed which is his greatest strength, Allen has really excelled in one other area which happens to be quite interesting – he gets hit by pitches at a consistently high rate. Allen had 48 plate appearances with the Yankees this past season and was plunked five times. For his career, he’s been hit 24 times including a career-high nine times in 2019 with the Indians. In 553 career minor league games, Allen has been hit with 113 pitches including 48 times between 2015 and 2016 combined.
For the Pirates as it stands right now, Allen could be starting in the outfield for the Pirates come Opening Day. A scenario in play for Pittsburgh is a platoon-type system between him and Anthony Alford. Other options who could see time in the outfield next to Bryan Reynolds and Ben Gamel include Hoy Park, Michael Chavis and Cole Tucker. The Bucs could also look for another everyday outfielder through free agency or trade this offseason.
Allen will bring an element of speed and upside to a team that is able to take a chance on a player who has potential. Since Ben Cherington took over as the team’s general manager, he has not shied away from taking a chance on former highly-regarded players who have essentially been outcasts – Alford, Chavis, etc. The Pirates are hoping that the potential chance for more consistent playing time for Allen could be just what he needs to become a player who can contribute in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates have club control over Allen through 2025, and Allen has no minor league options remaining.