Pittsburgh acquired Choi, 32, in a trade with Tampa Bay last November. They gave up right-handed pitching prospect Zach Hartman to get an immediate power bat who could play first base.
Choi said he had a feeling he was going to be traded during spring training in February. Choi is eligible for free agency after the 2023 season. Tampa Bay, a typical small-market team, couldn’t afford to offer him a multi-year deal. Choi was well aware of this as he watched his former teammates leave the organization. He admits that he didn’t expect Pittsburgh to be his next destination.
But Pittsburgh chose Choi for a reason. After two straight 100-loss seasons, Pittsburgh was slowly winding down its rebuilding process and needed a better performance than last year to accelerate that graduation. Pittsburgh’s problem was that they were missing a lot of weight at first base, the centerpiece of their offense, and Choi, with his solid performance, was a viable alternative.
However, Pittsburgh’s plans have been disrupted by injuries. Choi, who had a slow start to the season after undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow after last year’s season, was placed on the disabled list with an Achilles tendon injury after nine games this season. Initially placed on the 10-day disabled list, Pittsburgh moved him to the 60-day disabled list because of the severity of his condition, meaning he won’t return for two months.
Choi has been rehabbing, batting just .125 with two home runs in nine games this year. He injured his Achilles tendon just as his batting average was starting to rise. And now there’s speculation that Choi could be traded again after failing to provide the contributions Pittsburgh was looking for.
Jason Markey, the Pittsburgh beat reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, covered Pittsburgh’s trade market moves this offseason in a Q&A with readers on Wednesday. The non-waiver trade deadline is at the end of July. While there’s still plenty of time for trades to be made, it’s time for Pittsburgh to start thinking about it.
In July, teams are usually divided into “buyers” and “sellers” based on their performance. Teams that are underperforming are selling in anticipation of next year, while teams that are performing well or are in contention are usually trading prospects 스포츠토토 for an immediate boost. Markey pointed out that Pittsburgh is still in limbo. In fact, through three days, the Pirates are 29-27 (.518) and in second place in the National League Central. That’s better than expected. But their record since May hasn’t been great. It remains to be seen if they can keep it up.
If Pittsburgh were to continue its downward spiral and eventually become a “seller,” Markey said Choi is the best option to sell. “If you find a team that’s willing to take him, then (a trade) is definitely a possibility,” Markey said. Choi is still half a season away from free agency anyway. He’s not a player Pittsburgh is calculating for the long term. If there’s a team that needs Choi despite his struggles this year, Markey believes they should be aggressive about trading him.
As for switch-hitter Carlos Santana and right fielder Conor Jo, who have been sharing first base in Choi’s absence, “it depends on the price,” he said. There’s no reason to sell at a loss, he said. “Don’t trade” Andrew McCutchen, who returned to Pittsburgh this year, and Rich Hill, who is on a one-year deal, “keep him and don’t sacrifice depth for younger, injury-prone prospects,” he said.
Along with Choi, the two players most likely to be traded are catcher Austin Hedges and right-handed reliever Vince Velasquez. However, Markey said, “I doubt you can get much for Hedges. Velasquez is not healthy,” he said, adding a question mark.