Filling the Void Left by Starling Marte’s Suspension

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ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 17: Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates catches a line drive against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on April 17, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Pirates have begun their long road without Gold Glove outfielder Starling Marte, due to his 80-game ban for using performance enhancing drugs.

They now are without their top two hitters from 2016 (Marte and Jung-Ho Kang) and both are due to careless acts. Kang, for those unaware, was given a DUI over the offseason in South Korea and may not be allowed back into the United States this season.

Filling the Void Left by Starling Marte’s Suspension

So, how do the Pirates go about replacing their prestigious outfielder? It won’t be easy.

In the Field

There are a few routes they could take. On Tuesday night, they placed utility man Adam Frazier in left field. They followed that up by placing John Jaso there on Wednesday. This moved Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco back to their 2016 positions in center and right field, respectively.

Another route that they could explore is keeping Polanco in left and moving Josh Bell to right field. Bell played most of his minor league ball in right, so he’s comfortable at that position. He also made a few starts there since being called up to the major leagues. This would, in turn, allow Frazier to still become an every day player, something the Pirates really want to see happen. Josh Harrison would become the permanent third baseman, while David Freese would move to first.

At the Plate

Without Marte in the lineup, the Pirates lose a dynamic option at the plate.

They made the move to call up Jose Osuna after the news broke about Marte’s suspension. Osuna had a really strong spring for the Pirates and almost made the Opening Day roster, but was left off of it. He will likely get a good chunk of starts and hopefully build off of the high batting average he had in the spring.

The Pirates top positional prospect, Austin Meadows, is off to a cold start for Triple-A Indianapolis, as he has a .162/.220/.270 slash line. He is the likely replacement if a McCutchen trade happens at some point during the season. If his numbers improve, he could be given the opportunity to play at the major league level before Marte’s return.

Assuming the Pirates don’t have any games cancelled during the 80-game suspension, Marte would return on July 19 against the Milwaukee Brewers. This is right in time for the trade deadline, and the Pirates will likely have made a decision on whether they will buy or sell by that time.

The Pirates have options to replace Marte for the next three months. However, with an already weak bench, they will need to get more production out of the unlikely sources.

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1 COMMENT

  1. How do you feel about Josh Bell?
    My own opinion is that he has looked terrible even with the HR. He has been unable to get around on high fastballs and his swings look the worst of anyone I’ve ever seen who wasn’t a P. I’d like to see josh go back, work on some things and gain confidence and then return. Really like Frazier and Osuna looked like a hitter this spring. I believe he would be an upgrade but Bucs can’t replace absence of Kang and Marte who are excellent players.

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