Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Block: Alen Hanson
With the season in full swing, and teams starting to fall out of the race already, trade rumors are going to start swirling. The Pittsburgh Pirates are contenders as expected and with that will be looking for ways to improve their roster.
Now yes, it is only the third week of May, but we have already seen some trades happen. The Anaheim Angels dealt for right-handed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin from the Atlanta Braves already. This article is not going to diagnose what the Pirates needs are, but rather who their most sensible prospect trade chip is.
The Pirates have called up second baseman Alen Hanson from AAA while Starling Marte is on paternity leave. Now many believed Clint Hurdle would stick Hanson in left-field as he was playing that position over the last week or so at AAA Indianapolis. Instead, we saw Hanson strikeout swinging in his first MLB at-bat as a pinch hitter for Jon Niese.
With that Hanson has played the middle infield his who career. He started as a shortstop and broke out in 2012 at West Virginia, the same year and level as Gregory Polanco did. As Hanson went up the Minor League levels his defense never polished up. In fact, his biggest issue was his throwing. On easy ground-balls he would over think the play and throw the ball away. With that the Pirates officially moved Hanson to second base at the end of the 2014 season. At this position they felt he would not have time to over think a throw. So far he has been better at that position.
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What does all this mean? Well Hanson is never going to play shortstop regularly again, the Pirate organization has pretty much said that. If he struggles with throws from shortstop he will also struggled at third base. This limits him to strictly second base. Yes, he has played some outfield, but he will not project to be one in the majors at this point being he has not really played there.
So where does he fit into this team going forward? He has spent all of 2015 in AAA and has continued in 2016. You cannot keep this prospect in AAA for ever, especially considering that he has been ranked as a top 100 prospect in all of baseball. If he stays on this team he could be used as a super utility, like Josh Harrison before him, similar to how Ben Zobrist was used in Tampa, and Mookie Betts was used when first called up by Boston.
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What is the issues with that? The Pirates have a deep bench. Jung Ho Kang and David Freese will share third base, while Sean Rodriguez will be the back up middle infielder. Meanwhile, Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison both are having nice seasons thus far. The Pirates have great infield depth, do they need to keep Alen Hanson around?
One has to wonder if he is more valuable as more infield depth for this team. The Pittsburgh Pirates have Cole Figueroa (currently up), Jason Rogers, Pedro Florimon, and Max Moroff all in AAA who can served as infield depth. The other side of the argument is would he more valuable as a trade asset.
As mentioned earlier, he is considered by a majority of scouts as a top-100 prospect. Would the Pirates benefit by keeping him on the bench, not playing him every day, and getting limited production out of him that they could get from others (names earlier) or dealing him for a proven contributor?
Did the Pirates call up Alen Hanson to showcase him over the next few days to MLB scouts of teams who could be looking to deal this summer? Say the Atlanta Braves? By no means am I speculating that the Pirates are looking to deal Alen Hanson. However, with no clear path to start for the Pirates in the near term future why not deal him. Also, there are plenty of infield prospects coming behind him in Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer, and Ke’Bryan Hayes. With this any package built around Hanson could bring back a significant player.
Alen Hanson is a talented prospect. He has been ranked in the Pittsburgh Pirates top 10 prospects for several years now. He could be a nice super utility player for us until a permanent position opens up for his taking. That is not very likely with Josh Harrison producing and singing his contract extension just last year. One thing many people complain is that the Pittsburgh Pirates organization hoards prospects. With so much in cheap, ling term, infield depth now might be that times it makes sense to deal one of the top prospects in the organization. Do you agree? Comment below!