Is Matt Joyce The Answer To The Pirates’ 4th outfielder spot?
Matt Joyce had a down year in 2015, but his history as a starter in the outfield could make him the Pirates’ best fourth outfielder option come Opening Day.
The final signing of the Pirates’ off-season might have happened last week when the team signed outfielder Matt Joyce to a minor league contract. The move wasn’t a major one, but it may have filled one final need the Pirates had before heading into spring training: the fourth outfielder position. He’ll be competing with Sean Rodriguez, Jason Rogers, Mike Morse, and Jake Goebbert for playing time, and to be the primary outfielder off the bench come Opening Day. Out of the available choices, is Joyce the best option the Pirates have for that role?
I’d argue yes. As a fourth outfielder, a player is the first option off the bench to give either Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, or Gregory Polanco a day off, and would also be used as a pinch-hitter and possibly a late game defensive replacement. Joyce has by far the most major league experience in the outfield (5163.0 innings) compared to the next closest in Morse (3061.2) and Rodriguez (662.1). He also has a higher career WAR at 9.0, the next closest being Rodriguez at 7.3. He’s the only one of the group to be an All-Star may be arguably the best overall offensive player of the group (Morse has more power, but has fallen off since his career 2012 campaign).