The Pirates need to address third base this offseason. One way to do this is by adding a second baseman and sliding Josh Harrison to third, Eric Sogard could fit this bill.
One of the biggest areas of need for the Pirates this offseason is third base. With Jung Ho Kang‘s status unknown and David Freese no longer being an everyday player, third base is a problem spot for the Bucs.
Luckily for Neal Huntington and company, the Pirates do not have to target solely third baseman in an effort to fix the position. The Pirates can always add a second baseman, and then slide Josh Harrison over to third base. Due to this, second baseman Eric Sogard could be a potential free agent target this offseason.
When 2017 began, things did not look promising for Eric Sogard. After being designated for assignment by the Oakland A’s before the start of the season he found himself without a home. However, the Milwaukee Brewers claimed him off waivers and after spending time at Triple-A he would go on to have the best season of his Major League career.
In 94 games last season Eric Sogard posted career-highs in walk rate (15.1 percent), on-base percentage (.393), slugging percentage (.378), ISO (.104), wOBA (.343), and wRC+ (108). Defensively, Sogard owned a .988 fielding percentage, a +5 defensive runs saved (DRS), and a 1.7 UZR/150 at second base. All of this led to him owning a 1.1 fWAR, which was the second highest of his career.
Throughout his Major League career Sogard has always been an above average fielder at second base. He owns a lifetime +23 DRS and .987 fielding percentage at second base. Adding Sogard would give the Bucs a strong defensive infield outside of shortstop.
The knock on Eric Sogard has never been his glove. His offense, however, has always left a lot to be desired. Prior to 2017, he had never had a season where he was a league average hitter.
Entering the 2017 season Eric Sogard owned a 6.9 percent walk rate, .295 on-base percentage, .313 slugging percentage, a .272 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 72 in 1,331 career plate appearances. He owned just a 23.6 percent line drive rate and an 18.0 percent hard contact rate in these 635 games.
The real question with Sogard is simple, was his 2017 season a fluke offensively or has he turned a corner? There are some reasons to believe he has turned a corner. His 28.6 percent line drive rate and 28.3 percent hard contact rate were both huge improvements over his career averages. He was also a much more patient hitter in 2017, as his 15.1 percent walk rate shows.
If Eric Sogard has turned a corner offensively, or can at least be a league average hitter in 2018, then he would make sense at second base for the Pirates next season. Most likely, Sogard could be had for around $5-7 million a year which is something the Pirates could afford. This makes Sogard a potential free agent target this offseason.