The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced that outfielder Jose Tabata has been outrighted to Indianapolis. He was designated for assignment last Friday and cleared waivers. Due to his contract, it’s no surprise that he has now cleared waivers twice this year. Tabata is owed over $9 M in the next two seasons, which means he will likely accept the assignment to AAA, rather than elect to become a free agent, where he won’t get anywhere near the same amount of money. Tabata hit .282/.314/.333 in 80 games for the Pirates this season.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. Tabata would probably help himself if he was to drop down to about 185lbs. and work on his flexibility. He has had hamstring issues over the years. He could probably reinvent himself as a leadoff hitter that could pop 10 Hr’s a season and if he gets some of his speed back can play all three positions in the OF. Maybe not an everyday CF (he can fill in there) but can play both corners out there. a .300 hitter with a good OBP + if some of his speed returns at a lighter weight could be of some benefit.

  2. Tabata slowed down, but I wouldn’t quite call him “slow” just yet. Oddly, despite our characterizations of Jose, there are 4 or 5 teams in MLB that would’ve benefited from having him as their leadoff hitter this past season.

  3. If you look back, before he had the hamate bone issue with his hand he was doing great. Never had any power ever since the injury. Had hammy problems too. Hit well for average and pretty good pinch hitter this year but just no power. Even though expensive, a nice depth option for the Bucs to have

  4. This is a classic example of guessing wrong on a prospect. Tabata had the look of a future .300 hitter with good gap power. Instead he filled out the wrong way…both mentally and physically. While he still puts the ball in play and hits for a reasonable average, the body and mind did not fill out as planned. It happens with young guys all the time. If you are the Pirates you are occassionay gonna swing and miss on a guy. But you gotta gamble. You get the best years of a players career at a great price. Look at Cutch. His contract makes it easier to forgive Tabata’s.

  5. I think it is important to remember that he is still pretty young – turned 26 in August. He has be some accounts been inclined to party a bit too much/hard and there was some speculation that he was sent down the first time this summer to keep him away from Polanco. The good news is the Pirates can stash him in Indy and have him available if needed or should he all of sudden put things together. And they can be pretty certain that they can send him back if that is required at some point at no risk. Yes he is pretty expensive in that role – but they have no other options really.

    He would not be the first guy to wake up at 28 or so and become a productive hitter – but hard to see the power being much more than 10 or 12 homers a year.

    Given his lack of power I would think he should hire a chef and personal trainer and try playing next year 20 pounds lighter – he is listed at 210 – but looked a bit heavier to me this year – and is not quite 6′

    • Tabata issues, as a hitter, is that with his swing and approach he tries to inside out everything to right field, never going to have much power with that approach. Over the last three years, only Derek Jeter had a high rate of ground balls to his pull side, he could probably still hit the ball with some authority but he would need a swing overhaul.

  6. I find myself wondering why a guy like Tabata doesn’t grab a first baseman’s mitt and learn to play the position in the winter leagues. Maybe he’ll never be as good defensively as Gaby Sanchez, but offensively he’s got at least as much value and he’d be a more versatile bench piece if he could play multiple positions while Gaby is pretty much limited to first.

    • thanks for the update—silly question—is there a conditioning program that might allow him to regain his mobility?

  7. Here is a question. If he spends the entire year in AAA, would it make him the highest paid player in AAA for any team?

    Does this have any impact on team unity or spirit at Indy?

    • Probably depends. Take Dan Uggla for example. There is a very real chance that if keeps playing he’ll be in AAA next and he is scheduled to make 13 million.

    • Well it probably depends – he might end up picking up a lot dinner tabs for the team and being their hero.

      He certainly has the resources to do so…

      So they might think having him around is a plus. I do think he has a competitive and pride thing to draw upon and as I said – he is very young and could still be an effective 3rd or 4th outfielder for a major league team – losing 20 pounds – getting in shape and getting his speed tool back to plus could help.

  8. Can anyone explain to me what happened to Tabata’s career? Did he simply not have the talent we thought? Poor work ethic? Bad luck? Is there any hope for improvement in the future?

    • All of the above, The good news if there is any is we don;t have to worry about someone claiming him because he is way overpaid so he gives us a OK 4th or 5th outfielder who typically gives us quality ABs. We never have to worry about anyone claiming him because he is to costly and we can keep him in the minors to be used only in case of emergencies.

    • He has the hit tool that we expected and decent on base ability, but his power never developed and his speed evaporated quickly. So, you have a slow singles hitter with suspect defense. Basically the worst case floor projection. Of course we expected a good average hitter with doubles power and solid defense.

      • j: But, when the Pirates needed a spark this year, he came through; same same with Snider – they seemed to be clutch players this year as part-time guys, and I think that both can hit guys pitching from either side.

        • He is a replacement level player because of his defense and base running. His bat is league average.

    • I think it actually all comes down to his legs.

      Jose Tabata is not a bad hitter. He’s just not. Almost exactly league average in over 1700 PA.

      What he has lacked since the second year he was in the league was an ability to contribute literally anything defensively or on the base paths.

      • Several years ago I watched a game in bradenton where tabata went 3-4 with a couple of ribeyes, if I recall correctly. The thing that really stood out to me was the cansecoesque moment when tabata was clunked on the dome by a fly ball as he banged off the wall. I thought then to myself, man this kid can hit now if thebucs can only get him to shag flies effectively they might have something. Alas the fly balls are still shagging him. He is a high priced ( albeit a good one ) bench bat or 4th outfielder at this point, I don’t see much hope of trading him, so the bucs just have to live with his contract.

        • Ha, yeah, sounds like Tabata.

          Tabby is a tweener. He’s not appreciably less valuable over similar playing time than guys like Nate Mclouth and Rajai Davis – who signed last year for more money than Tabata will make – but those guys have the speed/defense profile teams look for in the 4th OF role. He’s not appreciably less valuable than a big bat pretending to be an outfielder like Morse Morse, but doesn’t have the power teams covet. And he doesn’t have name value like an Ichiro Suzuki or Vernon Wells who both stunk but were still given similar roles and more money by the Yankees.

          It may not make complete sense for a team not to want him, and I absolutely think the Pirates could shed him by taking on some of the contract, but the market has spoken.

      • Several years ago I watched a game in bradenton where tabata went 3-4 with a couple of ribeyes, if I recall correctly. The thing that really stood out to me was the cansecoesque moment when tabata was clunked on the dome by a fly ball as he banged off the wall. I thought then to myself, man this kid can hit now if thebucs can only get him to shag flies effectively they might have something. Alas the fly balls are still shagging him. He is a high priced ( albeit a good one ) bench bat or 4th outfielder at this point, I don’t see much hope of trading him, so the bucs just have to live with his contract.

    • I think part of it is that he is probably older than his listed age so his upside was much lower than perceived? Welcome to baseball purgatory Jose. A purgatory where you can make 9 mil the next two years. He is an accidental genious.

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