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.
Matt Carpenter pulled his weight and then some during the Cardinals’ 18-5 win on Friday, becoming just the second player in MLB history to tally three home runs and two doubles in the same game… and the first-ever to do so in the first six innings of a single game.
Carpenter wasted little time getting the Cardinals on the board, first drawing a full count against Cubs lefty Jon Lester, then ricocheting a 92.4-MPH fastball off the scoreboard in right field for a leadoff home run. He returned in the second inning for another two-run shot and capped a seven-run spread in the fifth with an RBI double (his first double of the game was a leadoff hit in the fourth) before polishing off his performance with a third, three-run homer in the sixth.
Following Friday’s explosive five-run, seven-RBI performance, Carpenter is now batting .274/.381/.576 on the year with 23 home runs, 30 doubles and a .957 OPS in 388 PA. The last player to record five extra-base hits in one game was the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, who collected four runs and six RBI for the team back in June 2016. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch pointed out, Carpenter might have set another franchise record for most home runs in a game had interim manager Mike Shildt not removed him from the game in the bottom of the sixth. The record is still held by former club outfielder Mark Whiten, who collected four home runs (and a staggering 12 RBI) against the Reds in September 1993.