The Pirates finalized a minor league deal with free agent outfielder Daniel Nava on Friday, per a team announcement. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training, where Nava will presumably be available off the bench or slot into a corner outfield spot alongside established regulars like Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.
The switch-hitting Nava is coming off of his best season since 2014. Before losing the last month of the 2017 season to a lower back injury, he slashed .301/.393/.421 with four home runs and 1.1 fWAR in 214 plate appearances for the Phillies. His extreme splits make him an intriguing pinch-hitter option: against righties last year, the 34-year-old mashed an impressive .341/.423/.474 in 156 PA.
Recent comments from Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggest that Nava could platoon with fellow outfielder Jordan Luplow to start the season, though they haven’t yet ruled out another free agent or trade acquisition this offseason. No. 1 prospect Austin Meadows is expected to help the team in the outfield at some point in the near future, but as MLB.com’s Adam Berry points out, he could use more seasoning in Triple-A Indianapolis before making a full-time transition to the majors. Assuming Meadows stays on track, Nava could find himself relegated to a pinch-hitter/fourth outfielder role before too long.