SATURDAY: The Bucs have officially announced the deal.
THURSDAY: The Pirates have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Matt Joyce, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The 31-year-old ACES client will presumably compete for a bench spot in Spring Training, as the Pittsburgh outfield mix of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco is among the best in the game.
The 2015 campaign was far and away the worst of Joyce’s career, as he batted just .174/.272/.291 with five homers in 284 plate appearances as an Angel after being swapped for right-hander Kevin Jepsen in an offseason trade with the Rays. While those numbers, clearly, are unappealing, Joyce’s track record prior to that dismal season was very solid. From 2010-14 with the Rays, Joyce posted a collective .251/.344/.434 batting line with 73 homers in 2219 plate appearances.
In the event that Joyce makes the Pirates’ roster, he’d very much be a platoon or matchup option for manager Clint Hurdle, as even in that quality stretch with Tampa Bay, he batted a paltry .185/.246/.313 in 326 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. Conversely, his numbers against right-handed pitching look rather impressive: .263/.360/.456 with a 12.8 percent walk rate and 18.7 strikeout rate.
Currently, the Pirates’ options for backup outfielders include Mike Morse, Jake Goebbert and Sean Rodriguez. Morse is most likely viewed as a first base option as opposed to a candidate for significant time in the outfield, leaving the latter two (and perhaps fellow non-roster invitee Antoan Richardson) as Joyce’s primary competition.