While Jose Tabata is off to a hot start with Indianapolis, he still has a long way to go before he earns his way back to Pittsburgh.

Though Tuesday, Tabata is hitting .316, with a .757 OPS. While the numbers look good, it appears that he has dug himself too large of a hole to get out of with the organization.

While Tabata appeared to work his way out of favor last season with a lack of hard work, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington likes what he has seen out of the outfielder so far this season.

“We were aggressive with [Tabata] and what we believed he needed to do to get back to the big leagues, and he’s working hard to make that adjustment and has played very well for [Indianapolis] and importantly he’s played hard,” Huntington said on Sunday. “He’s running well for them against and he’s showing up every pitch and getting after it.”

With Indianapolis, Tabata has run out about every single ground ball, which is something that has not always been the case in the past. It is something that is subtle, but part of what has gotten him in trouble in the past.

After playing in 80 games last season with in Pittsburgh, Tabata found himself in Indianapolis and off the 40-man roster. This season started with him in the same role.

While he is not completely in the long-term plans, Huntington said that he sees Tabata as a big league player again eventually. The only question is whether that’s with the Pirates.

After first reaching the Triple-A level in 2009, it appeared Tabata had a big future in the majors. After spending time with Indianapolis in the following season, Tabata also played in 102 games with the Pirates and hit .299 and stole 19 bases to kick off his career.

However the strikeout to walk ratio has been an issue for Tabata in the past. Even that has been solved somewhat this season, as Tabata has nine walks and eight strikeouts in 76 at-bats coming into Tuesday night. A bigger issue has been too many weak ground balls. That’s not improving so far, with Tabata going from 55% last year to 59% so far this year.

“We’ve been very open with Jose that, while we hope his return to the big leagues is with us, he’s a guy that may need to get somebody else’s attention and have somebody come get him to get back to the big leagues,” Huntington said. “If that happens, we’ll be happy for him. If it happens here, that’s a great thing for us as well.”

While Huntington would be pleased if a suitor came to get Tabata, the market just isn’t there. They dangled the bait the past couple of seasons with a pair of DFA’s, but the fact is that Tabata is still making $4 million this season. He will make $4.5 M next season, and a $250,000 buyout after that. Every team passed on taking on his contract for free. The Pirates would have to pay teams to take him, and that would make much sense.

With the outfield depth in the system, it just doesn’t look in the cards for Tabata to get a shot in Pittsburgh. The best case scenario for the Pirates is if the quality of play continues enough to get someone to take him off their hands, while taking some of the salary with the move.

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  1. More on why I think Angels are the most likely suiter – Big Market club, 2nd place team still in the hunt, no prospects to take over the position, not much in the farm system as trade bait to get a better player with MLB experience.

  2. The might want to keep him around. Lambo has never shown any value and Hart may be done.

  3. It appears Tabata is being paid too much and lacks maturity to return to 40 man, he should be put on the block. The Pirates need hitters and it should be mature hitters with the baseball drive in their blood. Its what is in his head not his bat that will determine his future.

  4. I think that Tabata for his contract if he had a “head in the right place” would make sense for a number of teams that needs a fourth outfielder. It makes absolutely no sense for the Pirates.

  5. While Huntington would be pleased if a suitor came to get Tabata, the market just isn’t there.

    Gee, this morning, both Rumbunter and Bleacher Report seem to think that we can trade him for Aaron Harang. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Contracts much, much worse than Tabata’s have been traded; the Pirates just can’t expect anyone to eat the entirety without taking on one of their own.

      A Harang/Tabata trade wouldn’t make a ton of sense, but a Papelbon/Tabata trade might. Money would be just about neutral, Phillies get a year and a half to see if Tabby can add a little bit of power to his contact profile, at which point those $7m/yr options are easy to pick up for a team with their resources.

      • The question, though, is whether Papelbon would make any sense for the Pirates at all. What are your thoughts on how Papelbon would fit? I assume you were more making the suggestion for the monetary reasons not that you think it could or should actually happen.

        • Very true, and you’re correct that the monetary connection was a major factor. But I still do believe Papelbon would be at least the 3rd or 4th best reliever on this club, if not more.

          Highly doubt either side would agree to the trade, quite frankly, but I think this is the type of move that gets some sort of on-field value back in a hypothetical Tabata trade.

    • Ruben will want 110 cents on the dollar for Harang, trust me. After the deadline last year they interviewed a bunch of GM’s who said the requests by Amaro were laughable. Normally I would say that’s a scorned GM but there were so many and Jayson Stark talked about it in great detail on the radio too.

  6. The Angels have the lowest OPS in LF. That may be the most logical suiter in a Jose Tabata for a PTBNL trade.

    • The Angels also dont really have anyone in the system in the way of OF that is near ready to step up in a 4th OFer/future LFer role. They have a few LHP mid level type prospects i wouldnt hate seeing as a return.

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