PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates added a veteran bat to their outfield mix, finalizing a Minor League contract with Daniel Nava on Friday. Nava's deal includes an invitation to Spring Training.Undrafted out of Santa Clara University, Nava played independent ball in 2007 before the Red Sox signed him in '08. He hit
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates added a veteran bat to their outfield mix, finalizing a Minor League contract with Daniel Nava on Friday. Nava's deal includes an invitation to Spring Training.
Undrafted out of Santa Clara University, Nava played independent ball in 2007 before the Red Sox signed him in '08. He hit a grand slam on the first pitch of his first Major League at-bat in '10 and eventually won the World Series with Boston in '13. Nava has also played for the Rays, Angels, Royals and Phillies during his seven-year career.
Where does Nava fit with the Pirates?
"Daniel will have every opportunity to compete to make our club as a role player, a quality bat off the bench who's had success in that role," general manager Neal Huntington said.
In other words, Nava could play a role similar to the one Matt Joyce filled two years ago as a Minor League signing-turned-fourth outfielder.
Joyce, a lefty hitter, wasn't part of a platoon in 2016. He was clearly defined as an extra outfielder behind Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. But he accumulated 293 plate appearances over 140 games, with 251 of those plate appearances coming against right-handed pitching, and he played both corner-outfield spots.
Nava is a switch-hitter, but he has a clear platoon split; he has been much more effective against right-handed pitching throughout his career. Nava owns a career .281/.374/.404 line against righties compared to a .211/.296/.293 line versus left-handers.
Nava, who will turn 35 on Feb. 22, was a particularly tough out against right-handers last season, when he put up an overall .301/.393/.421 line with four homers, 21 RBIs and 26 walks compared to 38 strikeouts in 214 plate appearances over 80 games for the Phillies.
"He's a guy we've actually talked about [acquiring] a handful of times over various offseasons that he's been available," Huntington said. "At different points of his career, he's been a very valuable player for Major League clubs."
Marte is expected to move to center field, where he broke camp last Spring Training before receiving an 80-game suspension, and Polanco will play one of the corners. That leaves one spot open in the Pirates' post-McCutchen outfield, and Nava could help at least bridge the gap until top prospect Austin Meadows is ready for the Majors.
The Pirates' internal options include 24-year-old Jordan Luplow, a right-handed hitter who slashed .302/.381/.527 with 23 homers in 117 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season. The Pirates have indicated that Luplow may benefit from more time in Triple-A, but he could share time with Nava and back up Polanco. Their other options include super-utility men Adam Frazier, who put up solid advanced metrics in the outfield last season, and Sean Rodriguez.
"We continue to explore the free-agent market. We continue to explore the trade market," Huntington said. "But as we look at Adam Frazier, Jordan Luplow, a healthy Sean Rodriguez … we feel very comfortable with that group."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.