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Adam Lind Would Boost The Offense, Not The Versatility

Adam Lind would boost the bench with the bat, but limit it with the glove.
Photo by Alex Brandon/AP

There’s a lot of ways you can slice this pizza, but the end result is always the same — the Pirates’ offense in 2017 was bad.  Not mediocre.  Bad.

  • 27th in WAR with 11.0 (Astros 1st with 33.0)
  • 28th in wRC+ with 85, meaning they were 15% below an average team in creating runs (Astros 1st with 121)
  • 28th in runs with 668 (Astros 1st with 896)
  • 27th in batting average with .244 (Astros 1st with 282)
  • 29th in Isolated Slugging with .142 (Astros, again, 1st with .196)

And in a year where hitters were blasting homers, due to both the probable changes to the seams of the baseball and the revolution of altered swing mechanics to hit more fly balls, the Pirates were in 29th of total homers with just 151.  And hey!  The Astros didn’t lead this category, the Yankees did with 241!  (The Astros were 2nd with 238.)

So in a way to find some more offense for the Pirates, while also keeping a close eye on the bottom line, we’ve proposed a couple of moves in previous articles.  First we looked at a potential Gregory Polanco for Corey Dickerson swap with the Rays.  Then we looked at waiting out Zack Cozart’s market and trying to get him on a lesser deal than expected.  Both of those moves have a high degree of uncertainty — the Polanco-for-Dickerson swap would involve GM Neal Huntington making a bold move to a perceived core asset, something he’s been loathe to do, while the Cozart signing might mean waiting until mid-January to try and improve the offense.

Enter Adam Lind.

All it would take to get Adam Lind on the Pirates is for him to sign his name on a contract, probably for 1 year, maybe with a club option for a 2nd.  He would cost U.S. dollars to sign, but not a ridiculous amount of them.  He hits for average, hits for power, so what’s wrong?

He’s basically a DH at this point, at best a below-average 1B defensively.  And the Pirates already have a good offense-bad defense 1B on the payroll in Josh Bell.  Coupled with the fact that Bell is a switch hitter, there really wouldn’t be a lot of starts available for Lind.  The left-handed Lind has also been poor against left-handed pitchers throughout his career (.217/.263/.329), so he’s a platoon player.

But maybe that’s OK.

Lind will be in his age-34 season in 2018, so his thoughts of being a full-time starter have probably long evaporated from his mind.  He gave the Nationals 301 quality at-bats last year and produced a robust line of .303/.362/.513 with 14 homers, good for a 122 wRC+.  He masqueraded in LF occasionally for them, but saw the majority of his field time at 1B.  All for the low price of $1.5M.  The Nationals did not pick up their end of the mutual option for 2018, so Lind is on the market now.

After a long run with the team that drafted him, the Blue Jays, Lind has become a ronin of sorts these past three seasons.  From 2015 to 2017, he’s played with the Brewers, Mariners, and Nationals.  He was traded each offseason from the Jays to the Brewers, then the Brewers to the Mariners, all while playing on his original team-friendly extension he signed early in his career.  Always playing solid, but never interesting enough for another team to trade for him at the deadline to augment their bench.  In those three years, he’s run wRC’s of 120, 92, and 122, respectively.

Lind’s wRC+ of 122 would have tied for the team lead with Andrew McCutchen.  His .210 isolated slugging would have been just behind Bell’s .211.  This is a guy that can put a bat on a ball and make it turn into positive results more often than not.  The Pirates could use his bat.

But….what about his defense?  The Pirates love to try and prevent runs (it’s cheap) and positional versatility.  Lind isn’t good at either of those things, so Huntington and Hurdle would have to be willing to go outside their comfort zone to have a guy be rooted to one position and, essentially, be a late inning pinch-hitter when they need some offense.

When you look at that array of offensive offensive (not a typo) stats I posted at the start of the article, H&H should be willing to try anything to inject offense into the Pirate lineup.  After playing for $1.5M in 2017 as a free agent for the first time in his career, the Nationals turned down his $5M option.  So Lind’s value lies somewhere between those two points.

I’d sign Lind for $3.5M during this week’s Winter Meetings and not think twice about it.  That would then trigger trying to move David Freese and his $4.25M salary in 2018, as he would be superfluous at 1B and redundant at 3B with Sean Rodriguez still on the roster as a backup (or starter…shudder).  So in a sense, the Pirates could actually save payroll by signing Lind and trading Freese, but simultaneously boosting the offense.  That should delight all parties at 115 Federal Street.

Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

11 Comments on Adam Lind Would Boost The Offense, Not The Versatility

  1. mark delsignore // December 12, 2017 at 7:27 AM //

    “I’d sign Lind for $3.5M during this week’s Winter Meetings and not think twice about it.”

    As a glorified DH?

    The only way this guy gets on the Pirates in 2018 is if he is a non roster invitee to spring training and signed for the minimum.

    $3.5M?

    No way

    • Kevin Creagh // December 12, 2017 at 7:42 AM //

      2 of his last 3 years, he’s played in the NL. He’s not unusable at 1B, just not good. People want to boost offense for this team, then run down every quasi-realistic fit (based on $) that is presented.

      • Kevin Schafer // December 12, 2017 at 10:38 AM //

        then run down every quasi-realistic fit (based on $) that is presented.
        —————————————————-

        “What’s wrong with that?” — Bob Nutting

        • Kevin Creagh // December 12, 2017 at 1:46 PM //

          I don’t understand what you’re asking. If you want examples of what I’d do this offseason, click the Business of Baseball tab and you can see all the articles I’ve laid out for potential trades and FA’s. The whole “Taking Advantage Of…” series does just that.

          • Kevin Schafer // December 12, 2017 at 1:49 PM //

            I was just being sarcastic by saying that Bob Nutting would have no problem running down every quasi-realistic fit based on money that is presented.

  2. Mark Delsignore // December 12, 2017 at 8:40 AM //

    We need more than 250 ab’s at 870 ish ops for 3.5 mil…they don’t exist

    • Kevin Creagh // December 12, 2017 at 8:59 AM //

      You are dramatically underestimating what an additional hitter in the mid 800’s of OPS (or 120’s of wRC+) means to an offense. And what it costs to buy that production on the market. If Lind would produce that line for the Pirates, I’d sign that $3.5M contract in blood right now.

      • mark delsignore // December 12, 2017 at 7:48 PM //

        Kevin

        How many at bats will Lind get? 2 a week? 4?

        I saw similar bragging last year (not you) about Osuna’s OPS and good ole Gabbie Sanchez of lore — but these guys do not/did not get enough at bats to matter.

        If Lind can play 3rd at least half time opposite Freese then I get it.

        • That is the question, would he be able to get enough ABs to make a difference? And would his poor defense cancel his offensive contributions?

  3. Mark Gaudiano // December 12, 2017 at 9:09 AM //

    The Pirates are not going to make the playoffs with Adam Lind on their team, so i save the money and continue with a total rebuild and if the Pirates decide to go in that direction, then Lind does not belong on this team, if the Pirates decide to try to make the playoffs, that money should go towards a Jamie Garcia or a thirdbaseman, not Adam Lind. Kevin, i do like your idea of trying to get Dickerson from Tampa.

    • Kevin Creagh // December 12, 2017 at 1:49 PM //

      Yes, if the Pirates go full rebuild then Lind is not needed. All of my suggestions this offseason are predicated on the notion that the Pirates should make a run at the playoffs in 2018.

Comments are closed.