The Pirates have signed Gilberto Celestino to a minor league deal, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The outfielder will presumably receive an invitation to major league Spring Training.
Celestino, 25 in February, had a challenging year with the Twins in 2023. He suffered a tear of the ACL in his left thumb and underwent surgery in March. He was on the injured list until the middle of June, at which point he was optioned to the minors. He played 55 Triple-A games, hitting just four home runs but walking more often than he struck out. That led to an unusual batting line of .243/.392/.389 and wRC+ of 106. He was outrighted off the roster in October and was eventually able to elect free agency.
Originally an international amateur signing of the Astros, he went to the Twins in the 2018 Ryan Pressly trade. As a prospect, he was generally praised for his defense, speed and ability to get on base but there were concerns about a lack of power. Those concerns have generally been borne out as Celestino has never hit more than 10 home runs in a season. He got 409 major league plate appearances over 2021 and 2022 but hit just .222/.292/.300. His Triple-A work has been more impressive, as he’s hit .261/.385/.408 at that level over three separate seasons.
The Pirates have Jack Suwinski in center field and Bryan Reynolds in left. Right field is a bit more open, with players like Joshua Palacios, Henry Davis, Ji Hwan Bae and Canaan Smith-Njigba all posting lackluster results at the plate in 2023. Celestino is capable of playing all three outfield spots and could try to force his way onto the roster, either in that right field competition or for a fourth outfielder gig. Celestino is still fairly young and has just over a year of service time, meaning he could be retained for future seasons via arbitration if things click with the Pirates. However, he is now out of options, giving him less roster flexibility going forward.