Could Tabata satisfy Bucs’ biggest need?

Although Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is taking a typical public stance — “We don’t have any glaring needs, but are looking for any possible upgrade.” — at the top of the Bucs’ wish list is right-handed power and bench help. If it can come in the same package, all the better.

Pedro Alvarez still is the only Pittsburgh player with homers in double figures. Although several righty-hitting teammates are close (Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Russell Martin) none of them are viewed as pure long-ball threats.

The position most in need of an upgrade in this area is right field, typically one of the power spots on the field. The Bucs have gotten a total of eight homers out of that position.

Jose Tabata is getting a big chance to prove he can be the regular right fielder, and he has produced exceptionally since coming off the DL (.400 in eight games). But he has never been a power guy.

The Bucs had some interest in Scott Hairston, but the Cubs have since moved him to the Nationals.

Someone like Alfonso Soriano perfectly fits the profile — but he isn’t an off-the-bench kind of guy and the only position he can reasonably fill is left field, where Marte is immovable.

No. 1 on the wish list would be someone like Alexis Rios. The Pirates like him enough for Huntington to try to be creative enough to make fit as much of the $18 million left on his contract through 2014 that the club would have to assume.

Rios would be a natural fit in another significant way: The Puerto Rico native was compared to Roberto Clemente in his younger years, due largely to a comparable arm, and having him play in front of the Clemente Wall could be oure magic.

Tom Singer

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