The Pittsburgh Pirates should be looking to bolster many areas of their roster this offseason, the bench is certainly an area that needs to be improved. A speedy outfielder who spent last year with Seattle could be a smart signing for the club.
MLB Trade Rumors has released their list of the top 50 free agents this offseason and at number 42 is outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who they predict will sign a two year, $12 million year with the Pittsburgh Pirates this winter.
The fleet footed outfielder, who will turn 34 in August, may not have a lot of power in his bat, but he would certainly be an upgrade roaming the PNC Park outfield grass over some of the options the Pirates used last year when the starters were injured, needed a day off, or were suspended. Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron has Dyson as one of the top free agent bargains this offseason, so it should not be surprising if Dyson has multiple suitors as the Winter Meetings approach.
Dyson had spent his entire career with Kansas City before being dealt to Seattle prior to the 2017 season. He slashed .251/.324/.350, which is in line with his career numbers of .258/.325/.352 so at this point any team signing his has a very good idea of the type of production they should receive. Dyson clubbed a career high five home runs last year, but teams are not going to be looking at him to add power to their lineup, rather his speed is what is enticing.
Dyson swiped 28 bases in his only season with Seattle and prior to that he had at least 26 stolen bases in every season since 2011. In his eight year career he has 204 stolen bases and has only been caught 37 times, so he has had a lot of success on the basepaths. Dyson would represent a great option late in games and as someone who can give the starting outfielders a breather now and then. Last season Dyson compiled 346 at-bats which is far and away the most he has had in his career at this point. As Dave Cameron pointed out in his article, Dyson has been terrible against left handed pitching. He slashed .145/.230/.145 last year and in his career is a .215/.291/.259 hitter against southpaws. So the team that does sign him will try to limit his plate appearances against the lefties of the league.
Cameron’s contract estimate is for $22 million over two years, so he comes in a little higher than what MLB Trade Rumors figures that Dyson will command this offseason. Considering that Dyson was a 2.6 WAR player last year and has not posted a WAR under two since 2013, he could be a tremendous value in terms of return on the money spent. This is especially true of the contract he signs is closer to what MLB Trade Rumors envisions him signing this winter.
Short and long term option
So why would he be a good fit for the PIttsburgh Pirates? As mentioned above, Dyson is an attractive option to bolster the bench for the Pirates next season and potentially 2019 as well. John Jaso was a disaster in his limited time in the outfield last year so it would be a nice change of pace to have the time sign a legitimate fourth outfielder. This would also allow Josh Harrison and Adam Frazier, players who both saw time on the outfield last year, to play primarily in the infield, where they are better suited for action.
Dyson would also represent a decent, if not great, contingency plan. The 2017 season for the Pirates is a perfect example of how on paper everything was supposed to come together but instead fell apart. While the resurgence of Andrew McCutchen was a great surprise, the team had to deal with Gregory Polanco’s struggles throughout the year and Starling Marte’s suspension for half of the season. While Dyson cannot be counted on to replace all of the production if one of the outfielders gets hurt or struggles, he would be a better alternative than some of the options the team had last year.
The free agent market has been slow to develop and rumors of who the Pirates may be targeting have been almost nonexistent. But when the dominoes start to fall, the Pirates would be smart to target Dyson and aim to sign him for two years. It would not be a huge commitment in terms of time or money, and he would give the team a speedy option to start occasionally and deploy late in games.
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