Getting over a long slump, the Pittsburgh Pirates put themselves back in the wild card race for a postseason berth. The surprising ability of David Freese, Sean Rodriguez and Matthew Joyce has been a huge part of their recent success, but it also means they’ll be impossible to hold onto, all three of them together, once this season is over.
Freese, 33, signed a one-year deal worth $3 million with the Pirates, and the 2011 world series champion with the St. Louis Cardinals is having his best season since 2012, batting .284 with a .810 OPS, hitting 11 home runs through 100 games and 364 plate appearances, mostly featuring in third base, but playing quite a lot of first base also.
Rodriguez, 31, signed for $2.5 million, also a one year deal after already playing for the Pirates in 2015. His batting isn’t out of this world, only .241, but he has a .810 OPS and with 11 home runs, is one homer away from his career best. His OPS+, 113, is by far the best of his career.
And there’s 32-year old Matthew Joyce, who signed a minor league contract for just $1 million. He’s also posting his best numbers since 2011, batting .268 with a whopping .942 OPS, hitting 12 home runs through 97 games and 205 plate appearances, concluding a very strong and efficient bench the Pirates have turned into key cogs within their system this season.
The problem for the Pirates, of course, is finding room for all three of them. While no one is going to be commanding $15 million a year contracts from this trio, the Pirates got a combined 4.1 fWAR from three players earning a combined $6.5 million in almost 800 plate appearances.
Maintaining success as a team that’s not among the biggest spending powers in Baseball is difficult enough. Finding a bench players who can hit like this for this little money is even more difficult.