The news: The Pirates made a minor trade with the Padres today, acquiring a couple of players San Diego had designated for assignment. To clear space on the 40-man roster for their new acquisitions, they designated first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones and pitcher Kyle McPherson for assignment.
Jones is coming off a relatively dismal 2013 season, where he hit .233/.289/.419 in 440 plate appearances. He still hit 15 home runs, though. Looking back a year, Jones hit .274/.317/.516 with 27 home runs in 2012. He's appeared at first base in roughly half of his 708 MLB games, with most of the balance being played in right field. He's 32 years old and is eligible for arbitration for the third time this winter. He was a Super 2 player in 2012, so he'll be under his new team's control for two more seasons.
Even before this move the Pirates were likely to non-tender Jones, who made $4.5 million in 2013 and who MLB Trade Rumors projects would make $5.3 million in arbitration for 2014.
Could he help this team? Absolutely. In his MLB-worst season in 2013, Jones was basically Juan Francisco with better (league average) defense. If the Brewers are worried that it's going to be too expensive or risky to bring back Corey Hart, Jones is a healthy alternative.
Even if the Brewers do bring back Hart, though, Jones is a veteran lefty hitter who can play first base and a corner outfield spot and has plus power against right-handed pitching. He'd be useful to have as a bench bat, although his projected arbitration salary might be a bit high for a player that's not going to play everyday.
What do I think the Brewers should do? I'd claim Jones off waivers. There are still a lot of question marks surrounding Corey Hart's potential return to Milwaukee, and it's likely any deal to bring him back will carry more risk than a potential one year, ~$5 million investment for Jones.
What do you think?