There are not many battles in Spring Training for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but one is the final bench spot. Who should this spot go to?
Opening Day for the Pittsburgh Pirates is just 26 days away. In the next 26 days there are not many roster spots for Clint Hurdle and his team to make a decision on. One of the few is final bench spot.
Four of five bench spots are set in stone for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Elias Diaz will be the backup catcher, David Freese will be backup third baseman and first baseman, and Adam Frazier and Sean Rodriguez will both make the team as super utility players.
Both Moroff and Luplow were up and down between the Major Leagues and Triple-A for the Pirates last season. Meanwhile, Brentz was at Triple-A for the Boston Red Sox where he won the Triple-A home run derby.
There will be multiple factors to be weighed for who gets the final bench spot. First off, the Pirates must decide what they value more a true backup shortstop or a true fourth outfielder. Both Adam Frazier and Sean Rodriguez can play shortstop, but neither plays it well. Also, both can play the corner outfield spots as well and both are at worst average defenders in the outfield.
This would appear to make backup shortstop more important than a true fourth outfielder. That would favor the switch-hitting Moroff. If Clint Hurdle wants a true fourth outfielder though, then it will not be Moroff.
The second factor in this equation is minor league options. Both Moroff and Luplow have minor league options remaining. Brentz, however, does not. In the past under Neal Huntington the Pirates have always been hesitant to not at least give a player out of options a chance. So, this should favor Brentz.
Finally, there is the question of what the Pirates value most coming off the bench offensively. Brentz brings immense power potential, Luplow brings good power potential as well. However, both are right-handed hitters. Moroff has sneaky power, but his best asset is his ability to get on base and he is also a switch-hitter. This would make Moroff one of only two left-handed bats on the bench along with Adam Frazier, and Frazier is a quasi-starter for the Pirates.
When things are all said and done, I expect this to be a two player battle between Moroff and Brentz. The Pirates are high on Luplow and will want him getting everyday at-bats. That will not happen in Pittsburgh, however, it will at Indianapolis.
If it were my choice, I would take Max Moroff as the fifth and final member of the Pirate bench when the team heads north to Detroit at the end of March. However, it is not my call.
Under Neal Huntington, the Pirates have always been hesitant to give up on players who are out of options which favors Bryce Brentz. Clint Hurdle loves switch-hitters and positional flexibility though, and this favors Max Moroff. Hurdle also already has a familiarity with and trust in Moroff and it is due to this that I believe Moroff will get the final bench spot.
The battle for the final spot on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ bench will likely come down to outfielder Bryce Brentz and utility infielder Max Moroff. It would not be a surprise to see either make the team. However, my money would be on Moroff.