Can the Pittsburgh Pirates find a spot for Jose Osuna in 2018?

After the Pittsburgh Pirates trades that sent Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen away, the Bucs lineup will have a new look to it in 2018.

A possible trade of the now-longest tenured member of the Pittsburgh Pilates in Josh Harrison could also open up a spot for a young bat as well.

However one major question that needs to be figured out is whether that 2018 lineup will be with or without Jose Osuna?

Osuna did some decent things with the bat last year in terms of offering a bit of pop to the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup, but when it is all said and done, he very well could be the odd man out when it comes to playing time.

The Bat

As mentioned, it would be nice to add some extra pop to the lineup this season, especially when you consider the fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates finished next to last in the major leagues with just 151 homers last season.

Twenty-eight of those dingers are already out the door in McCutchen and 16 more could be on the way out if Harrison is dealt.

With power being the trend in the majors now, the Pirates have to find a way to hit the ball out of the ballpark more and getting Osuna’s bat in the lineup could help in that department.

As a rookie Osuna hit seven homers to go along with 13 doubles and four triples in 215 at bats so he showed some pop.

That’s the good news. The bad news is Osuna has a lot to work on if he is going to be an everyday MLB player.

He posted a not-so-nice .233/.269/.428 line with a below average OPS+ of 79.

The .269 OBP really sticks out like a sore thumb as Osuna walked just nine times all season. That has to improve.

It’s hard to gain much from his splits with just over 200 MLB at bats under his belt, but Osuna will have to show he can hit right-handed pitching consistently to find himself penciled into the lineup more frequently.

Osuna hit just .216 with a .660 OPS vs. RHP while he did slightly better against southpaws, hitting .253 with a .740 OPS. To be fair, even though he tore the cover off the ball in spring training, Osuna should have been in Triple-A last season getting regular at bats.

His starts were few and far between so he couldn’t get into any type of rhythm swinging the bat and it’s hard for a young hitter to excel strictly as a pinch hitter, a role Osuna struggled in. However with Jung Ho Kang not being able to enter the country, Starling Marte’s suspension, a thin bench to begin with and injuries, the Bucs really had no choice other than giving Osuna a look.

I still like his upside with the bat and this lineup desperately needs power potential.

Where does he play?

Osuna was sent to winter ball to work on playing third base.

While the reports were generally positive, he still was likely the odd man out with a whole list of guys who can play the position already on the roster. Throw in the trade that brought Colin Moran in from Houston and Osuna won’t see any time at the hot corner.

Barring injury, Moran and David Freese will get all the at bats at third base. Josh Bell is the everyday first baseman so Osuna getting every day at bats at first is out of the question.

And no, moving Bell back to the outfield to create a spot for Osuna isn’t really an option.

That leaves left and right field. With McCutchen gone, there is a spot up for grabs, but Osuna won’t get one of those.

Let’s be fair here. Osuna is a terrible outfielder.

He has a cannon for an arm, evident by throwing three Philadelphia Phillies baserunners out in one game, but he would really have to improve a ton defensively to even warrant consideration for playing time in the outfield this season. He’s not quick enough on his feet and takes terrible routes to balls.

Some of that can be due to being young and leaning new positions on the fly, but Osuna simply isn’t a good enough outfielder at this point to crack the everyday lineup. It’s also a numbers thing.

Sean Rodriguez, Adam Frazier and eventually Austin Meadows are all better options.

You can throw in Harrison if he isn’t dealt or even a possible free agent signing as we get closer to spring training.


As it stands now, Osuna should be the odd-man-out for the Pittsburgh Pirates

He doesn’t have a position to play and needs to work on some things offensively as well.

A season in Triple-A getting regular at bats wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to tell you the truth.

However another monster spring could change everyone’s mind and he could find himself in the mix for playing time.

But as much as the Pirates lineup needs some more pop, I’d rather see Osuna getting regular at bats in Indianapolis than getting just 200 at bats this year in a bench role.

Matt Shetler

Matt is a life long Pirates fan with both a newspaper and radio background. Before coming to Pirates Breakdown he was most recently the co-owner and lead columnist for Pittsburgh Sporting News. He has been a credentialed writer for all four major sports and also has written for plenty of other sports and fantasy sports websites.