Infielder Todd Frazier and outfielder Brian Goodwin both have May opt-out dates in their minor league contracts with the Pirates, tweets Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic. Frazier had a strong spring with Pittsburgh, slashing .250/.353/.643 with three homers and a pair of doubles in 34 plate appearances, but that wasn’t enough to convince the Bucs to put him on the active roster — nor was an early injury to third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. Frazier briefly opted out of his contract with the team at the end of camp in order to search for a big league opportunity elsewhere, but he re-signed a new minor league arrangement with Pittsburgh just days later. Goodwin, meanwhile, hit .229/.317/.371 this spring after a disastrous cameo with the division-rival Reds in 2020. His struggles through 55 plate appearances in Cincinnati notwithstanding, however, Goodwin batted .258/.327/.469 in 567 plate appearances with the Angels from 2019-20 and is an overall .250/.317/.455 hitter in 1124 trips to the plate as a big leaguer. If neither veteran is in the Pirates’ plans by next month, it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see them latch on with a club that is struggling with injuries or underperformance at the infield corners or in the outfield.
A few more notes on the Buccos…
- The Pirates bought low on former top prospects Anthony Alford and Dustin Fowler in center field, and the results to this point have been … uninspiring … to say the least. Fowler is 5-for-30 with a double, 13 strikeouts and just two walks in 34 plate appearances, while Alford is 1-for-20 with a staggering 15 punchouts in 24 trips. General manager Ben Cherington, however, told reporters this week that the club will be patient with the duo (link via MLB.com’s Jake Crouse). “We’ve got young players out there who are getting a chance to play at the Major League level for the first time with any level of consistency,” said the GM. Both Alford and Fowler were considered top 100 prospects not that long ago, but injuries and some crowded big league rosters have combined to prevent either from getting a lengthy look in the big leagues. Cherington noted that there is an “adjustment period” to be expected. That’s not to say that either has an unlimited leash, but it seems the club understandably wants more than a two-week look at a pair of 26-year-olds who can be controlled for five more years before turning things over to a short-term veteran such as Goodwin. That’s no doubt frustrating for Pirates fans who want to see a better on-field product in 2021, but for the time being it sounds like Fowler and Alford will continue to get their chances.
- Cherington also expressed some patience with Rule 5 pick Luis Oviedo despite a recent drubbing at the hands of the hands of the Padres, who tagged him for five runs in 1 2/3 innings Monday (link via Mike Persak of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). While acknowledging the dismal outing against San Diego, Cherington noted that it came after a weeklong layoff from pitching in a game and indicated that the club remains “really encouraged” by the manner in which Oviedo has begun the year. Most rebuilding clubs are willing to look beyond the bottom-line results when looking for positives with young Rule 5 picks such as Oviedo, who is pitching above A-ball for the first time in his career. If he continues to struggle to this extent, the Pirates will obviously have to weigh the merits of keeping him on the roster, but based on Cherington’s comments, Oviedo seems safe for now.