By: Noah Wright
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The Pirates are currently without a direct bridge for Gregory Polanco. After undergoing knee surgery, The Pirates don’t have a direct temporary replacement in right field. This is also an issue they’ve faced before, as they have not had a 4th outfielder since Matt Joyce in 2016, and not a good fielding 4th outfielder since 2015 with Travis Snider. And so, I think the perfect solution for this is Gerardo Parra.
The first thing I want to point out is his price. The Rockies will likely not give him $12 million for 2019, and will instead buyout his contract. I feel The Pirates can get on a low priced deal. Even though The Bucs may not be big spender, a contract of $6 million for one year should be within any team's budget.
Now let’s look at the assets he’ll bring with him. The first and most notable one he will carry to Pittsburgh is his fielding prowess, and experience in all 3 outfield positions. This season he’s mainly served as The Rockies left fielder, but saw 70 and two thirds innings in right field. In total, he was worth 6 DRS, 2.0 UZR, and .1 defensive WAR. Parra also had 9 outfield assists this year, along with a 1.1 outfield arm runs above average. His bat, while not one to bring 15-20 home runs to the team, won’t hurt the team. Parra finished the season with a .284/.342/.372 batting line with only 6 home runs, and 53 RBI’s. However what I do want to point out is the fact that he made hard contact 34.1% of the time, which is a near career high.
While Parra does hit for a decent average, and gets on base at a good enough clip, there’s 3 things that will make him more valuable to The Pirates than a handful of other teams: his bat in clutch situations this year, his success against NL central teams, and his spit’s away from Coors. Now this season, Parra is one player you would have wanted to bat when you needed to drive in a run. In the 114 times he stepped to the plate with men in scoring position, Parra hit for a .321/.407/.421 line. When there were just men on base in general, he hit .314/.386/.399. Then when the game is close and late, Parra has a .299 batting average. Even throughout his career, Parra isn’t a bad clutch hitter. With RISP, he’s got a career average of .271; with men on base he hits for a .290 average. So with him having the ability to be a clutch hitter, that could boost The Pirates above the mid-way point of RBI’s with RISP, as they ranked #16 last year. The next thing, while a bit surprising, is that he learned how to not rely on The Coors Factor. While he may have been using The Coors Factor to boost his numbers before this season, his 3rd year in Colorado displayed a better batting average and OPS away than at home. But probably the most valuable thing that he would bring to The Bucs is his success against NL Central teams. Against The Chicago Cubs, Parra has a .283 average; against The Cardinals he has a .290 average, and a .490 slugging %; against The Brewers he has a .298 average; against The Reds, he has a .297 average and .455 slugging %. But against The Pirates?; a .249 average, and .307 OBP.
It seems like a perfect fit for The Pirates. They get a decent bridge the gap kind of player until Polanco is ready to go, a guy that can hit for a decent average, get on base, hit in clutch situations, and someone that can hit teams that are in their own division hard is more than enough reason for The Pirates to go after him. That, along with the fact that they could probably get him for around $5-$6 million, investing in Gerardo Parra should be one of The Pirates goals over the off season.