It looks like right field is the priority for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago (via MLBTR) says that the Pirates have been watching outfielder Nate Schierholtz for more than a month. He also says that they have had Schierholtz and Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios at the top of their wish list.
We’ve heard about the Pirates being interested in both outfielders. Rob Biertempfel of the Trib reported about ten days ago that the Pirates were checking on both guys, and we did a trade values breakdown of both players in the same article.
The value for Rios was a Grade B hitting prospect with no salary relief. That value could go up if the White Sox picked up salary. Schierholtz had a slightly higher value, but still a Grade B hitting prospect due to his smaller salary.
The trade market is looking like an extreme seller’s market so far, which means that it’s unlikely Rios or Schierholtz could be had for their values. It would probably cost more for each player, and possibly much more (think a top 50 prospect to start). There haven’t been good reports about Rios in the last week. He was benched recently for a lack of hustle to first base, then there was this update from Danny Knobler last night.
— Danny Knobler (@DannyKnoblerCBS) July 24, 2013
Those aren’t the types of things you want to hear about a guy who is at the top of your trade wish list.
Right now Jose Tabata is hitting for a .274/.342/.400 line in 152 plate appearances. He also doesn’t have the best defense in right field. Both Schierholtz or Rios would be an upgrade, or at least would provide more comfort than sticking with Tabata and hoping he maintains the decent average, high on-base percentage, occasional power, and stays healthy. But the price to acquire either guy might be more than they’re worth, and upgrading that one spot isn’t going to provide a massive impact to the Pirates offense.
In short, the Pirates don’t have an easy decision in the next week.