Should The Pirates Re-Sign Jordy Mercer?
Should the Pittsburgh Pirates be looking into re-signing a longtime infielder this offseason?
Since 2012, Jordy Mercer has been a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Midway through 2013 he started to get the majority of starts at shortstop, and he has been the team’s starting shortstop since 2014. However, change may be on the horizon for Mercer and the Pirates.
The now 32-year-old Mercer is set to hit free agency following the conclusion of the World Series later this month. While most signs would point toward this signaling an end to Mercer’s Pirate career, that may not be the case.
Over the weekend, The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel Tweeted that the Pirates and Mercer could be interested in continuing their relationship.
Even if this came to fruition, it would still be a change for the Pirates and Mercer as he would no longer be the team’s starting shortstop. Instead, this role, assumingly, would fall to former first round draft pick Kevin Newman. This would be similar to when Mercer first reached the Majors and replaced veteran Clint Barmes, who then re-signed with the Pirates to be a backup infielder and a mentor to Mercer.
Re-signing Mercer to be a backup SS/3B could make a lot of sense for the Pirates. In his seven years as a Pirate Mercer has accumulated a fWAR of just 7.8. While this is not terrible, it also does not warrant the free agent contract of a starting player.
Furthermore, bringing Mercer back could be beneficial for Newman. Mercer knows what it takes to be a shortstop on a daily basis at the MLB level. Just as Barmes did for him, Mercer could take over a mentor role for Newman.
The big concern would be if Mercer can provide value at bats off the bench and as a pinch hitter. Mercer owns just a .256/.316/.383 slash line, a .300 wOBA, and a 88 wRC+ in his career. Considering he is a well below league average hitter, it is hard to envision Mercer being productive as a pinch hitting bench bat. This is why the Pirates should be hesitant to re-sign him.
Mercer is also a poor defensive shortstop. His lifetime defensive runs saved (DRS) at shortstop is -11. This includes a DRS of -9, -1, and -9 the past three seasons. So, having a shortstop that stinks at playing shortstop as a mentor for your potential shortstop of the future is probably a less than optimal idea.
Ultimately, the Pirates may be better off adding a different backup infielder than Mercer this offseason. Due to questions about both Mercer’s ability to provide quality at bats off the bench and his poor shortstop defense, how much value he would add in a reserve infielder role is a big question.