Pittsburgh picked up first baseman Chris McGuiness from Texas in exchange for Triple-A reliever Miles Mikolas.
Gaby Sanchez is around as the Pirates’ right-handed-hitting fallback option at first base in case they fail to land one of their primary targets and now they’ve acquired a left-handed-hitting first baseman in McGuiness to potentially platoon with him.
McGuiness hit just .246 with 11 homers and a .792 OPS in 104 games at Triple-A last season and also got into 10 games for the Rangers in his MLB debut at age 25. He has good on-base skills thanks to plenty of walks, but McGuiness is a career .257 hitter in the minors and lacks ideal power for the position.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.