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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Pirates Acquire Chris McGuiness For Miles Mikolas

The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired first baseman Chris McGuiness from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Miles Mikolas, per a team press release. The Pirates added Mikolas earlier in the off-season, along with Jaff Decker, in exchange for Alex Dickerson. Mikolas had been designated for assignment by the Padres prior to the trade. McGuiness was recently DFAd by the Rangers.

McGuiness only has 34 plate appearances in the majors, with a .382 OPS in that limited time. All of those appearances came during the 2013 season. He spent the rest of the year in Triple-A at the age of 25, hitting for a .246/.369/.423 line in 436 plate appearances. In 2012 he was in Double-A, with a .268/.366/.474 line in 530 plate appearances.

Looking at his splits, McGuiness looks like a good option against left-handers. Last year he had a .713 OPS against right-handers, and an .890 OPS against lefties. Those splits aren’t expected, since he’s a left-handed hitter. He didn’t have any splits in Double-A, with an .847 OPS against right-handers and an .819 OPS against lefties.

McGuiness has two option years remaining, so he could start the season in Triple-A. His role with the team depends on whether he can revive his numbers against right-handers. If he can return to hitting right-handers, he could be an option to split time with Gaby Sanchez at first base in 2014. With his success against lefties, he could also eventually become a full time option. If he can’t return to hitting right-handers, then he could serve as an alternative option in case Sanchez gets hurt or struggles in 2014.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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McGuiness is a career .257 hitter in the minors – even though he logged two years in hitter friendly TL and PC – and he is going to be part of a platoon at 1B for the Pirates in 2014? If he is, we are indeed in trouble at 1B.

Yes, Decker is a former first round pick who has spent the better part of 5-6 years in the Padres organization – and could not crack a very weak outfield in SD.

I’m all for being optimistic about the players we get, but lets be realistic. There is a better chance that these two will be Sands 2.0 and Snider 2.0, then there will be of them cracking the Pirates lineup in 2014. And, once Polanco comes to Pittsburgh, what good is a player like Decker – when we already have Tabata and Snider as backup OFers?


I think NH pulled off around of excellent trades because we capitalized on the fact that the players we wanted were probably out of options. NH traded a 24 year old Alex Dickerson, who could not play 1B, and would be in AAA forever if he was waiting on an OF position to open, for a 24 year old OF, Jaff Decker, a former first round pick who has played all 3 OF positions and had a nice year in AAA in 2013, and Miles Mikolas a RHRP. Then he swaps Mikolas off for a 26 year old left hand hitting 1B, Chris McGuiness, who can hit and field the position. And, both of these kids have shown that they know the strike zone, and will put the ball in play.

Some things really stand out about McGuiness. He struggled in 2011 at AA due to injuries and just barely played a third of the season. But, he came back to AA in 2012 and had 25 doubles/23 HR’s/77 RBI’s and a .993 Fld %age in 115 games at 1B; then went to the Arizona Fall League and was selected as the AFL MVP. Left unprotected for the Rule 5, he was selected by Cleveland and almost earned the starting 1B job in the 2013 ST. Cleveland returned him to Texas after ST, although Francona spoke very highly of him. He returned to Texas and posted some strong numbers at AAA in 2013. Those experiences show a lot of mental toughness, and I would not be surprised if he is alternating with Gaby Sanchez at 1B this year for the Pirates.

Through these “seemingly insignificant” moves, NH, a former first baseman in college, has served notice that the Pirates are not willing to be held hostage by the Mets, Mariners, or Rangers for first basemen these teams have overpriced.


Really good stuff EMJay! Did not realize the RV situation with McGuinness but it may explain his odd AAA experience, with an exaggerated reverse split. My guess, based on his previous seasons, where he exhibited NO lefty / righty split, is that his success against lefties was the norm but he developed a hiccup against righties. You’ll have to axe a sports psychiatrist why but often players will get screwed up after a RV drafting: perhaps getting sent back to the minors feels like a slap, so you either mope or try too hard, I don’t know. My guess is that he will come back this spring with a much better bat against righties. Whether that ‘s enough to earn a platoon spot or not is up to him. Yes, a very nice pickup for a team that needs 1B and has way too many AAAA bull penners already.


Always good to build depth, Huntington understands it well, he has a lot of talent on the horizon, but not ready yet.


The more I think on it the more I like this trade especially as the completion of the Dickerson Deal. It is the kind of trade a building team would make in that it adds talent by volume and need but it adds players that can contribute soon IF they ever contribute, so it works for a BUILT team. Dickerson came out of the draft touted but hasn’t done anything to put him above the Hague track. McGuinness had shown more power and is a natural 1B. Frankly I would probably have swapped Dickerson for Decker straight up. Decker has a much better chance of becoming a MLB contributor as an OF with D and O. As for this trade, figure the dreamworld upside of Mils Mascaras as a big time closer and McGuinness as a big time 1B… both are astronomical reaches I understand but both are just as likely, I make that trade any day and twice on Sundays!

Much better than paying $26M/3yrs for a 2 WAR mediocrity like Loney.


This is a solid deal. They traded from a surplus to get a lottery ticket. If McGuiness works out it’s a big win and if he doesn’t Mikolas won’t be missed so the loss is minimal. With two options remaining McGuiness can be stashed at Indy and this in no way impedes the Pirates ability to get a better 1st baseman for a reasonable price. Looking at his numbers I don’t have a lot of faith he will be anything more than AAAA like Matt Hague, but I am not a scout.


I like the trade. You are a homeless man, and you have a cd player- You really really want a steak, but since you can’t use the cd player, you’ll trade it for a hamburger. That’s the trade here. It helps address something we need by getting rid of something we don’t


Perhaps the club plans to bat Decker and McGuiness back-to-back in Indy. Lots of deep counts, give the vendors a chance to sell a few more draughts and hot dogs.


Dickerson a “good to very good” 1B prospect? He’s such a good 1B prospect that the Pirates used himself pretty much exclusively in RF despite their knowledge that Polanco was ahead of him in RF and there was likely to be a big need for a LH 1B in Pittsburgh in the near future.

John Sickels gave Dickerson a C+ with the caveat that he was a poor outfielder due to lack of speed and a mediocre arm, and had little experience at 1B. Decker and McGuiness both received C’s. McGuiness is a tolerable defensive 1B and has some plate discipline and contact skills. He’s not likely to become a big power hitter (but neither is Dickerson). Decker is another guy like Snider – high draft pick, hasn’t put it together yet.

The Pirates are doing what a team with their financial limitations must do – keep broadening the base of young players with potential. It’s called diversification, and is a good personal investment strategy as well as a good philosophy for keeping a relatively small-market baseball franchise relevant.

Most of you, as I did, watched what happened when Cam Bonifay, Ted Simmons, Dick Littlefield, et. al. attempted to use the Yankees’ model for running a franchise – trying to plug major league holes with third tier free agents is a recipe for 20 consecutive non-winning seasons. Now, after one year of success doing it the Rays’ way, you want to see them become the Yankees again!

So far, there hasn’t been a 1B available at a cost (either $$ or players) that I would have been happy to see the Pirates pay. Even Prince Fielder is suspect going forward because of his conditioning issues and dreadful 2nd half last season. So Ishikawa and McGuinness and Lambo are the recipe for a 1B – bring them all to camp and see if any of them can step it up. If none of them shows any evidence of doing so by the end of April, then you pay up for Smoak or Moreland or Ike. Not before.


Time will tell who is right and wrong regarding these guys.

As for Decker, it is not encouraging to have you compare him to Snider. Yes, they are both former first round picks – but I certainly hope we get more out of Decker than we have out of Snider to date. I just hope Polanco win RF outright in the Spring, because I don’t have confidence in Decker or Snider to be more than starters in Indy. Tabata would make a good 4th outfielder, since he can play multiple OF positions and can hit some.


r: First, congrats on calling this at least a week ago. I have been talking about trading to get some decent 1B prospects like Matt Skole (AAA) of the Nats and Dan Vogelbach (AA) of the Cubs into the system – can you pass that along to NH for me?

What do you mean that Dickerson was not a good 1B prospect. He’s tall, left-handed, and has a big glove – what more do you need to play 1B in the majors? I could have gone a lot longer without seeing the names of former Pirate FO personnel, but I think it was Dave Littlefield who most knew as “littlebrain”.

There are a lot of AAAA guys we have assembled and will not be paying too much to see if any of them can catch fire at the right time and turn into the next Garrett Jones. The Pirates were on the line for about $5.5 mil if they would have offered Arbitration to Jones, so we are bottom feeding with guys who will make 10% of that amount. And, it is not like the bar has been set very high – Jones’ slash line in 2013 was .233/.289/.419/.708 and his glove was suspect at best. Remember Brandon Moss? The light goes off at different times with these kids. I hope the Pirates can get production out of one of these guys, or return Gaby Sanchez to full-time status – his stats from 2010 and 2011 and 2013 are enough proof that Gaby can handle the job, and he has a plus glove. If so, we shuffle the infield and get Neil about 20-30 starts at 1B to spell Gaby. With Alen Hanson probably a year away, it may be time to think about making some room for getting his instant offense into the lineup at leadoff. Neil has the defensive hands, feet, and head to go to 1B, play solid defense, hit .270+, and possibly up that 15 HR/yr to 20 HR/yr.


Another AAA option could be Rich Poythress mariners. early round pick,
strong defense, power numbers through out his college and early minor carreer.


I truly think that this is the kid that NH is happy to get. If you look at his minor league numbers, he was very strong until 2011 when he fought through three trips to the DL. Even so, he did well in 2012 and I think he was the MVP in the AFL in 2012. He has very good numbers and was picked up by Cleveland as a Rule V Pick, but was returned to the Rangers at the end of ST. Terry Francona liked him a lot, but could not keep him unless he won a starting job – he said he came close, and there was a lot to like about him, but not having any experience above AA would hurt his overall development. He had a pretty good year at AAA and I think he can give us decent production offensively, and his glove has always been a positive.

Nick A. Capernicus

Everyone must realize they were playing dickerson in right field not first base for a reason. He was not able to handle it


I realize Dickerson may not have been a Gold Glove candidate at first base, but I assumed they were playing him in RF to increase his versatility and be a potential solution for RF in Pittsburgh.

Regardless, I would much rather have Dickerson still in the system, over Decker and McGuiness – I hope I am proven wrong.


For me, the Dickerson-Decker trade looks even more suspect – and I hated it when it was made. Essentially, we traded a good to very good 1B prospect for an average one at best. McGuiness has career average of .257 in the minors, and much of that included seasons in very hitter friendly leagues like the TL and PCL. I don’t get it.

Decker could not crack the Padres weak outfield, but he’s supposed to be a serious contender for RF in Pittsburgh? The one guy I kind of liked in that Dickerson deal – Mikolas – they trade away for essentially nothing more than another AAAA player for Indianapolis. McGuiness looks like another Clement or Sands.

One bad trade followed by an ever worse trade in my opinion. Dickerson at least had potential – hit for high average and had the size to potentially be a power hitting 1B.

I know NH knows what he is doing, and I am just a fan, but on the surface these moves are puzzling.


Dickerson is not good enough defensively at 1B to play that position in the majors, and wasn’t great in RF either.


But Lambo who has played 41 games in his minor league career is good enough defensively?…… Besides the fact that he has all of 30 AB in major leagues can the PBC even be considering him as getting the majority of playing time as the 1B against RHP?


Lambo also playled a lot of 1b in winter ball. Clearly, they are willing to give him a shot there. His WAR could still be + even if he doesn’t field particularly well, if his bat plays like it should. He is only 25 and certainly has time to learn the position defensively (like Walker at 2b did).
The fact that he does well vs. RHP is another reason that he may be just as good of an option as Davis or Smoak at this point … and much cheaper to the organization with higher upside.
Im not against giving him a chance at all.


I’m with you on that sentiment. i love NH, but these were puzzling moves all around.


No mystery leefoo, NH is trying to address the Pirates biggest need, to score more runs, by improving the team OBP. Look at the 2013 stats compared to the Cards:

Runs: 634 Rank: 20
OBP: .313 Rank: 17
SLG: .396 Rank: 16

Runs: 783 Rank: 3
OBP: .332 Rank: 3
SLG: .401 Rank: 12

The Pirates are close to the Cards in slugging percentage but are way behind in OBP and Runs scored. The Pirates simply don’t get enough people on base to be driven in. Of the Pirates starters only Cutch is untradeable due to elite status (OPS > .900). Marte, Alvarez, Walker, Mercer are not untradeable, but they can’t be replaced in the sense that there is no immediate farm system replacement for them and any straight up trade is likely to net a lessor rather than greater talent. Martin could be traded as T. Sanchez is ready, but the Pirates may not be willing to do that for defensive reasons. So the only positions available to makes changes to upgrade the team OPS are RF and 1B. What NH has done is to bring in guys such as Jaff Decker and this Chris McGuiness who have historically high OBP numbers which stand a chance of upgrading the OPB at their positions against RHP. NH’s moves are justified on that basis alone.

IC Bob

Everything we have done in regards to 1B is puzzling. Still lots of offseason left though so who knows what might happen.


I would probably use a stronger word then “puzzling”, but under the circumstances I guess it will suffice.


I was predicting an Ike Davis trade well before he was being mentioned… however, I am truly beginning to think that the FO may have more confidence in Gaby than most fans. Perhaps they are considering (SERIOUSLY considering) making Gaby the full time 1b this season. Perhaps they are correct. I don’t second guess them much anymore. They have more than earned my respect.
So I am 50/50 on Ike and 50/50 on Gaby going full time (with some tryouts of sorts from within the organization to spell him).


I think that PIT is fine with Gaby holding down the fort while the search continues. He kills leftys and, while he struggles against rightys, his OBP is still over 300 so he is not an automatic out. He also has defense that plays every day. He’s 30 so I don’t expect him to get much better, but Gaby alone this year has the potential to be about as effective as a Sanchez/Jones platoon. Meanwhile the Front Office has added some depth behind him until they find their everyday solution or platoon partner.

I would be fine if they picked up almost any of the current 1B options at the right price, but I like that they are patient. We’ll see if NY want to keep Ike on their 25 man when the season is about to begin. If PIT misses out on Ike, Smoak, etc; new options will emerge as the year/season develops.


If they start Sanchez vs. righties, I may call Tonya Harding to fix that problem. Unless we are planning on starting Barmes and hitting him in the cleanup spot as well…….then it would make sense


If the rumors were true last summer that the hold up in the Rios trade was that the sox wanted Dickerson, then I’m disappointed with Huntington dealing him. Even if they didn’t want to keep Rios, and his salary, for more than last summer then they could have delt him for a 1b this winter and possibly had a nlcs berth last year.


It’s the first I heard THAT rumor and I try to stay on top of things like that.

Got a link?


Not a bad move in my opinion but I think it is just a backup plan. Assuming no bigger trades are made for a legit LH hitting first baseman then it looks like Lambo will get the shot. I think McGuiness will be a back up plan at triple A. Ishikawa will probably be released outright in spring training.

I still hope we make a move for I. Davis or Smoak but not until the price comes down. The Mets have pipe dreams as to what they can get for Davis.

dr dng


Not sure why they would release. Ishikawa after spring training.

He is not even on the 40 man roster.


Because Ishikawa is borderline useless and with this move either Lambo or McGuiness will be on the 25 and the other will start at 1B in AAA. It goes even further if they do add another 1B.


So, we traded Dickerson for Jaff Dacker, or is it Jeff Decker, or is it……and McGuinness Beer man?

Bad deal, imho. AAA depth along with Travis Ishikawa. NH seems to be cornering the market on good fielding, bad hitting firstbasemen.

dr dng

Ok, so I guess McGuiness is ahead of Ishikawa, but from the numbers I have seen and the experience, will this be three way open tryout between Lambo, Ishikawa and McGuiness? From the way I see it, Lambo has the potential, Ishikawa has the experience and McGuiness has the defense?

Remember, I am not an expert. Just asking the question.


IC Bob the big names available are 2 win players. The Pirates approach has been wise.

IC Bob

You say we are being wise by not adding anybody of value. Two wins is a lot. Its the difference between playing at home in game 5 or on the road in the playoffs. It can be the difference between sitting at home or in the playoffs. War is a tool but its not the end all to player evaluation and team building. I do think the Pirates will add another 1B before April and I hope they choose wisely. I am not going to freak out if the trade sacrifices the results of our West Virginia single A team. In an interesting side note John Perralta is suggesting Burnett is looking at the Os and that its highly unlikely he comes back to Pittsburgh.

Cato the Elder

WAR means wins above replacement. “Replacement” being a replacement level player, i.e. the expected production of a readily available league-minimum, minor league fee agent. So you said , “2 wins is a lot” when I’m pretty sure you meant “2 wins above replacement is a lot.” Point being, you have to remember that the Pirates are not expecting to start a replacement level 1B. E.g Gaby Sanchez put up 0.8 WAR last year. Over a full season as a starter that one might reasonably expect that number to double. So while 2 wins above replacement is significant, 0.4 is much less so.


We finished 3 wins behind St. Louis and if you take all the starts given to Jonathan Sanchez to begin the season and waiting forever to ditch John McDonald and Brandon Inge and a few questionable moves by Hurdle we would have won the division by three or more. But that is pure conjecture as they say IC Bob just like you harping continuously that Andrew Lambo isn’t worth the time it takes to give him a chance.

Stephen Brooks

Was originally psyched to get Miles Mikolas until I realized he ISN’T the guy who played Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. Now that I know he’s not actually a Bond villain I’m totally cool with trading him for U2’s manager.

IC Bob

246 in the PCL? Well I guess we are throwing the darts on the wall for 1B. Maybe between him, Lambo and Sanchez, someone will be worth playing against LH pitching. I can honestly say I did not expect our approach at 1B to be what it now appears to be.


With options remaining, he looks to me like AAA depth. Unless there’s an injury or flame out or he unexpectedly catches fire, I expect him to be in Indy until September.

IC Bob

I meant to say against RH pitching. Just a little surprised so far. I guess there are still three more months before the season starts so maybe we are still looking for someone. I still think Seattle will be giving someone soon enough.


yeah my view on this is that as long as they think he can be better than Travis Ishikawa, then it’s worthwhile.

And there’s always the small chance that he translates his apparent great plate discipline, good defense, and decent power to the majors and makes this a great trade.


A former Red Sox prospect…. came across this scouting report from soxprospects…

Scouting Report: Left-handed batter, hits with an open stance that he closes on pitch approach while employing a timing tap. He’s a little loud at the plate with some waving of his hands during his stance. Finishes with a two-handed follow through up around his back, a bit of an uppercut swing. Excellent plate discipline, doesn’t jump out at balls, tracks pitches right into the glove. He uncoils with his swing and has a shorter stroke. The ball comes off his bat well – he doesn’t create a lot of lift, but hits through the ball with a little top spin. Should excel, even against more advanced pitching. Average power potential. Below average speed. Intelligent. Solid defensively, picks errant throws well.

Assuming this report is still true, he could be a fun little project that fits the team well if he has a nice platoon split.


He has a slow bat,has problems catching up to good fastballs,but when he keeps his hands in and down,he is ok.


is he on 40 -man roster


i believe he has to be placed on the 40 man because he was DFA’d and hasnt been outrighted by the Rangers yet. Mikolas was on it too, so no spot has to be cleared.


The Pirates should continue to attempt a trade for Ike Davis. I’d rather give Lambo and Gabby the opportunity if they can’t obtain Davis


Lambo is a cheap Ike Davis- There is no reason to trade him for something we already have. I firmly believe Davis is and will be a better defender career wise, I think they are basically the same hitter.


Miles, we hardly knew ya!


Garbage in, garbage out i suppose.

a solid .246/.369/.423 line in AAA last year. wonder what kind of righty/lefty splits that contains.


Rubbish??, Refuge????, Waste??? Maybe recyclables??


Bb: To play at this level, they are all “ballplayers”, and some are a lot better ballplayers than others – Garrett Jones was a career AAA guy who got a chance from the Pirates and made it work for he and his family. I like the term recyclable. NH was trying to corner the Greek market and there was a rumor that the food service folks were gearing up to serve Moussaka and Baklava at PNC Park.

A shout out to “rburgh” who suggested the Pirates put in a claim for Chris McGuiness about a week ago, and then followed that up under the Davis thread from a few days ago.

John Marshall

Back to their same old BS..Way to go Nutting..Gawd I wish he would sell the team!!!!!!1


Yep, more garbage on a team full of garbage.

Or you could look at it as trading a decent AA 1B prospect (Dickerson) that may have contributed in MLB in 2 or 3 years at the earliest for a decent OF prospect and decent 1B prospect that have both had a taste of MLB and will be knocking on the door this year.

But I guess the glass can never be half full.


come on man i wasn’t being critical. just because i think that it was a 39th player on a 40 man roster for another 39th player on a 40 man roster doesnt mean i’m angry with the team or half empty. Since you bring it up, I liked the Dickerson trade because i’m a Decker fan and Mikolas has a good shot at being a decent last guy in a bullpen.

I’m okay with this trade because they traded a guy who was nothing more than a decent shot at being a decent last guy in a bullpen for a guy who is less certain than Mikolas, but has a little bit more upside at a position of more need. I don’t have to think the players involved are great in order to like the trade.

Sorry if you thought i was being irrationally angry about this trade or something.


Jay,I think the magic word is” garbage “. I know when I see it in certain MSM sports blogs,I can feel the red coming up my neck. I never thought it was fair to use that term when referring to players in any sport. I did take the time to read your reply,and see that it wasn’t really completely aimed at McGuiness,but I my own thought is that it would probably be better not to use the term at all. Thats just me !


Yeah the guys are probably the best players their home towns have ever seen. “garbage” is obviously a poor word. I just thought “garbage in garbage out” was an acceptable term widely used to describe low profile low impact trades like this one. I wouldn’t usually just call a player garbage. Just thought everyone used it like i did there.

It was just an extremely shorthanded way of saying that mcguiness doesn’t appear to be all that special at first glance (and that’s fine!) and that Mikolas was a fine price to pay.

I won’t do it again (unless we’re talking about Britt Reames) (just kidding. but he was bad.). Thanks for making me realize that i sounded silly to anyone who read that.

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