Pirates acquire minor league first baseman from Texas

Travis Sawchik
| Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, 3:21 p.m.

In their search to add a left-handed hitting first baseman, the Pirates acquired Chris McGuiness from Texas on Monday, sending reliever Miles Mikolas to the Rangers.

McGuiness, 25, has limited exposure to major league pitching, so it is unclear if he will have a significant role on the 2014 Pirates or if he will provide the club with depth and competition in spring training. McGuiness has demonstrated on-base skills and solid power production in his minor league career.

“Chris provides us with another option at first base and allows us to remain patient as we continue to explore the first base market,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “We like the offensive production potential as well as his ability to handle himself around the base.”

McGuiness hit .176 in 10 games with the Rangers last season. McGuiness spent most of the year with Triple-A Round Rock, where he hit .246 with 11 home runs and 29 doubles in 104 games. McGuiness was better in 2012 when he hit a career-best 23 home runs for Double-A Frisco. He posted an .840 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2012, a mark bolstered by 69 walks. He is a career .257 hitter in the minor leagues.

The trade does not rule out the Pirates upgrading at first base.

The remaining free-agent and trade markets for first basemen is thought to be thin, though the Pirates have expressed interest in Mets first baseman Ike Davis. The Pirates also have had power-hitting prospect Andrew Lambo spend time at first base in the Dominican winter league.

The Pirates have been in a search for a left-handed complement for first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who has performed well against left-handed pitching as a Pirate but who has struggled against right-handers.

Mikolas never pitched for the Pirates. He is a groundball specialist who was acquired from the San Diego Padres along with outfielder Jaff Decker in a trade earlier this offseason. Huntington indicated at the Winter Meetings that the club felt it had a surplus of bullpen arms.

McGuiness played college baseball at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. He was picked by Boston in the 13th round of the 2009 draft before being traded to the Rangers on July 31, 2010.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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