Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 2/14/14
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington’s top priority throughout the off-season was finding a left-handed hitting first baseman. The off-season ended Thursday when spring training started for the Pirates, with pitchers and catchers working out at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Yet, Huntington continues to search for a first baseman who bats from the left side. That’s the case even though the Pirates have been connected with every available left-handed hitting first baseman on either the free agent or trade market short of Willie Stargell’s ghost. “We simply haven’t found the right match,” Huntington said. But a match could be made in the near future as the Pirates have interest in free agent switch-hitting first baseman Kendrys Morales. The 30-year-old Cuban émigré would fit nicely in a platoon with right-handed hitting Gaby Sanchez. Last season, Morales hit .277 with 23 home runs in 156 games last season for Seattle while playing his home games at Safeco Field, which is atough park for hitters. Over his seven-year career, Morales has a .839 on-base-plus slugging percentage (OPS) batting left-handed and a .736 mark from the right side. Conversely, Sanchez has an .895 lifetime OPS against left-handed pitchers in his six-year career and .700 versus right-handers. Put the two together and the Pirates would likely receive above-average production at a position that demands it. The Pirates would have to forfeit their first-round pick in this year’s amateur draft to sign Morales after he turned down a $14.1-million qualifying offer from the Mariners in November.
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