The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with free agent outfielder Matt Joyce, as according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports on Thursday morning.
It is said that the 31 year old will receive an invite to major league spring training where he will have the opportunity to fight for a starting spot in alongside Gregory Polanco who took over for Josh Harrison during the second half of 2015 after he went down with a thumb injury in July.
The news comes after his departure from the Los Angeles Angels to become a free agent and test the market for better offers which could give him a chance to return as an everyday starter.
Joyce was traded by the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2014 offseason in exchange for RHP Kevin Jepsen as he was struggling for offensively and defensively having finished the season with a slashline of
Joyce will join the club at their spring complex in Brandenton, Florida on when all players are due to report.
What went wrong with Joyce's approach?
Joyce has served the game of baseball for eight seasons and the 2015 season was the worst of it. Over the time span, he hit with a slashline of .174/.272/.291 to go alongside 5 home runs and 21 RBI's after having appeared in a total of 93 games played, hie fewest since 2010, during an injury-plagued season.
Joyce was an all star in 2011 where he saw the most success at the dish, mostly against right-handed pitching which continues to be his stronger end as opposed to left-handers. He will look to provide this ballclub with a lefty bat that has been been heavily relied upon in the past given his production of the past as he looks to get things back together for the first time in three years.
As noted by MLBTradeRumors, the Pirates will look to limit his exposure against left-handers which will hopefully bring up his numbers as he heads into his final year of arbitration which will come with a projected salary of $4.9MM. Should he not fit into the corner outfield, he could end up as the team's DH, figuratively sharing time with C.J. Cron who is also a former member of the Angels organization.
As of now, it is likely that Mike Morse will get the call as the club's everyday right fielder given his many years of experience and talent, however, he could be competing with Sean Rodriguez who also fits on the corners of the infield, making him a great utility option which is always needed. Morse also fits in at first base, making him easy to move should problems suddenly arise. On the bench would be Jake Goebbert who is another lefty option if he does not start 2016 in Triple-A Indianapolis where he could be put to good use if used correctly by manager Clint Hurdle.