Pittsburgh Pirates interested in Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino


With the trade deadline looming only days away and the Boston Red Sox sitting 12 games back in the division, it’s time for them to start looking to trade away pieces that aren’t going to be a part of the team’s future. That would include veterans on expiring contracts, such as Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino.

Neither is likely to return much value given their struggles this season. Napoli is hitting .209, while Victorino has only been healthy enough to appear in 33 games this season. Despite being at the low-point of their respective careers, the Pittsburgh Pirates still appear to have interest in trading for at least one of them.

The Pirates currently lead the Wild Card race in the NL and are looking to bolster their lineup for the stretch run.

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Napoli could platoon at first base with the left-handed hitting Pedro Alvarez, who has hit a meager .188 against lefties this season. Napoli hasn’t hit well against anyone, but his .235 average against lefties would serve as an upgrade over Alvarez. Napoli has been showing signs of life at the plate lately, hitting .357 with a home run and 4 doubles since the break. Alvarez has also struggled defensively, while Napoli has provided a steady presence at first base since moving to the position full-time in 2013.

Victorino claims he doesn’t want to be traded, but shipping him to Pittsburgh could be what’s best for everyone. He could split time in right field with Gregory Polanco, who is hitting an anemic .167 against left-handed pitching. Victorino, who now bats exclusively from the right side, is hitting a scorching .343 against lefties and remains a very good defensive outfielder.

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On the surface it wouldn’t appear that the pedestrian numbers produced by Napoli or Victorino would entice anyone to want to trade for them, but when you consider how a team like Pittsburgh would use them in platoon roles with their current starters it starts to make sense. Both veterans can provide significant upgrades against left-handed pitching and could be valuable assets off the bench.

The reduced playing time may not sit well with these proud veterans initially, but the chance to play in a pennant race again seems like a fair trade off.

Moving on from these veterans gives the Red Sox a chance to give more playing time to those that may factor into their future. It could clear a path for Rusney Castillo to get back to the big leagues. Perhaps they could give Allen Craig one last chance to redeem himself by giving him time at first base.

Boston has a lot invested in those players, who are being paid a lot of money to toil away in Pawtucket. With their postseason hopes fading away, the rest of the season should be used to figure out if these guys have a future here.