PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates added to their outfield depth on Tuesday by claiming 24-year-old Troy Stokes Jr. off waivers from the Tigers.
Stokes is a right-handed hitter with no Major League experience who sat out all of Summer Camp and the 2020 season due to a fractured right hand that required surgery in July. Detroit designated him for assignment last week to make room for the signing of outfielder Robbie Grossman, a former Pittsburgh prospect.
To make room for Stokes on their 40-man roster, the Pirates designated left-handed reliever Nik Turley for assignment.
Stokes made a big impression on the Tigers last spring, going 6-for-22 with five doubles and a stolen base in 11 Grapefruit League games before the COVID-19 pandemic ended Spring Training. The Brewers picked the 5-foot-9, 200-pounder in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft, and he spent six years in Milwaukee’s farm system. The Tigers claimed him off waivers on Sept. 3, 2019.
While playing for Double-A Biloxi in 2018, Stokes won a Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award and was named a Southern League All-Star as he finished third among the league leaders with 48 extra-base hits and tied for fourth with 19 home runs. His best season came the year before, as he hit .251/.341/.447 with 20 homers, 74 RBIs, 63 walks and 111 strikeouts in 135 games between Class A Advanced Carolina and Biloxi.
Overall, Stokes has hit .250/.351/.411 with 57 homers, 18 triples and 115 doubles over 554 Minor League games. He has two Minor League options remaining. He will likely enter Spring Training camp as depth behind Bryan Reynolds, Anthony Alford, Gregory Polanco, Jared Oliva and possibly Cole Tucker, although Tucker will be competing for the starting shortstop job. The Pirates are also expected to pursue a veteran outfielder this offseason, though that could be more of a role player.
The Pirates still valued Turley, the 31-year-old lefty who pitched in some high-leverage situations and recorded his first save last season, but nonetheless decided to designate him for assignment. Turley posted a 4.98 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP with 20 strikeouts and 11 walks in 21 2/3 innings over 25 appearances during his first season with Pittsburgh.
The fact that Turley is out of Minor League options also played a part in the Pirates’ decision to remove him from their roster and hang on to some other relievers who didn’t pitch as frequently as Turley did last season. Considering how few innings their pitchers threw last year, the Pirates will need a deep and optionable group of relievers to get through the coming season without overworking any of their young arms.