The ice has finally been broken!
After a very quiet offseason, David Freese has finally found a home for the 2016 season. The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Friday, that the team had inked the veteran third baseman to a one-year pact. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel reports that Freese will earn $3 million on his deal.
Freese, who will turn 33 this April, is coming off of an unimpressive run with the Los Angeles Angels. Over his two-year tenure with the Angels, Freese hit .258/.322/.401 with 24 home runs, and a .723 OPS. It took some time for his market to heat up, but the Pirates got a good player with this signing. After all, it was only five years ago that Freese was the postseason hero for the 2011 World Champion St.Louis Cardinals, winning both the NLCS and World Series MVP awards. While it’s not likely that the seven-year veteran will return to postseason hero form, he’s still more than capable of putting out solid production.
For Pittsburgh, this is a great acquisition. Jung Ho Kang is still in the process of recovering from a fractured tibia that he suffered last September. With the uncertainty surrounding Kang’s status for opening day, there was no clear-cut starter at the hot corner. Pittsburgh clearly wasn’t comfortable enough, with waiting for Kang to fully recover and make his return, thus they felt the need to add Freese to the mix.
Freese will initially hold down the fort at third base, until the return of Jung-Ho Kang. From there, a number of things could happen. Freese could be playing so well, that it forces the Bucs to keep him in the lineup. He could also in theory stay at third, while Kang replaces a struggling player elsewhere. Clint Hurdle could also opt to move him into a platoon at first base, as Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mentions that is the ultimate plan. Ultimately though, the signing of Freese adds depth to a weak Pirates infield, giving them plenty of options as the season moves along.
Freese expected to start the season as 3B until Kang returns. Freese then will be the right-handed member of the Pirates first-base platoon.
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) March 11, 2016
For the amount that Pittsburgh signed him for, this is a clearly a low-risk, high-reward type of move. It could very well pay off for the Pirates, as Freese may re-capture his 2011 form. While it’s more likely that Freese plays the role of a solid, veteran contributor, it’s not entirely possible to rule out a career resurgence.
In a corresponding move, the Pirates designated Jesse Biddle for assignment.