Aug 30, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes (12) turns a double play over St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig (21) to end the game during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Case For Re-signing Clint Barmes

Clint Barmes is a thirty-four year old shortstop. He’s hit .221/.264/.329 this year, and the Pirates are paying him $5.5 million dollars for his services. His current contract is an atrocity, one of the biggest failures of the Neil Huntington era. All that may be true, but the Pirates ought to offer Barmes a contract for the 2014 season.

Jordy Mercer has been a great addition to the Pirates club this year; he’s young, swings a good bat, and he’s not a free agent until 2019. He’s clearly taking over the role of starting shortstop for the long term. If the Pirates re-sign Clint Barmes, it’s not going to be as the starting shortstop. It’s going to be as a backup infielder who provides flexibility to allow off days for Mercer and Neil Walker (provided Mercer slides over to second base on Walker’s off days). Barmes provides not just solid, regular defense, but he often provides strong, exceptional play behind his pitchers (no matter how angry A.J. Burnett may get over shifts that don’t go his way).

Barmes as a backup would also help to provide more stability and continuity for a young team (the Pirates starting eight comes in with an average age just over 26), which is invaluable for a team trying to build on a couple of seasons that have gotten progressively stronger.clintbarmesalwayssmooth

While some of Barmes’ qualities may be harder to quantify than others, it’s become well known the Clint Barmes is simultaneously one of the most intense players in the Pirates clubhouse, while being one of the most agreeable guys as well. Intangibles and “veteran presence” aren’t enough to merit anywhere near what the Pirates have paid him over the last two years, but combined with Barmes’ impressive abilities in the field and the fact that he’s a career .247 hitter, there’s sufficient reason to try to bring Barmes back for one more year, at a significant discount compared to his current contract. He’ll still frustrate at the plate sometimes (or often), but when placed in the context of being a backup rather than an everyday starter, that’s an acceptable trade off. As a defensive replacement, a getaway day starter, and just as a solid veteran infielder, re-signing Barmes would be a sound move by Neil Huntington and company. He may be an easy target for misplaced consternation, but he’s always smooth.

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  • marcorincon

    Well, would Clint stay in Pittsburgh for $1mil/yr? No money figures for 2014 are mentioned above. He’s certainly going to be a better back-up infielder than John McDonald or Brandon Inge were for us in 2013!

    • Campbell Sproul

      That’s the hope. I didn’t mention a specific number largely because the free agent market for veteran backup infielders won’t really take shape for a bit still.

  • Joe Nastasi

    I wouldn’t sign him for league min. Career 247 hitter. Your another Barmas apologist. He’ll be 35 next year. He hasn’t seen 247 in years. He has no flexibility. He can’t pinch hit. He’s a semi popular John McDonald/Brandon Inge. He’s cost them a couple games with botched run downs. He’s been bailed out with at least 20 throws in the dirt with the worst fundamentals in the league. He has no range because he’s almost as slow as Barajas which means he can’t even pinch run. Bench players have to give you multiple options. He gives you a dead bench player. ENOUGH BARMAS talk already

    • Campbell Sproul


    • Joe Nastasi

      Morneau saved Mr. Smootheeeee from yet another throwing error last night to go with his 48th 0′fer on the year. Bringing back the worst hitter on the team to be a bench player on the already horrible hitting bench makes a lot of sense. The bench is a problem you don’t fix it by bringing back a 35 year old who hasn’t hit in years. Status quo doesn’t work

  • Greg Novak

    absolutely not he has cost more good starts and wins then he has won with his bat or glove. show him the door he is an absolute under achiever