Could a veteran that was a one time trade target now become a free agent target for the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason?
As the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers prepare to do battle in Game 3 of the World Series tonight, Major League Baseball keeps getting closer to the start of free agency. When free agency arrives, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have no bigger need than shortstop. And a glove first veteran could be a target of theirs.
28-year-old Jose Iglesias made his MLB debut for the Red Sox in 2011, before being traded to the Detroit Tigers in the summer of 2013. The one time top prospect is a player Neal Huntington had interest in when the Bucs traded Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox in the winter of 2012, but, obviously, Huntington was unable to pry him away from the Sox.
Throughout his MLB career Iglesias has struggled offensively. Other than 2013 when he posted a 102 wRC+ he has always been a below-average hitter, but his defense has been among the best in baseball at the shortstop position during his time in the Majors.
During his seven-year MLB career, Iglesias has been responsible for +12 defensive runs saved at the shortstop position. He also owns a .985 fielding percentage and a 9.9 UZR/150.
Last season, despite playing in just 125 games after missing most of September due to injury, Iglesias posted a career-best 2.5 fWAR. His .310 on-base percentage, .389 slugging percentage, .304 wOBA, and wRC+ of 90, while all below league average, were his best since 2015. He also continued to be a strong defender with a +1 DRS and a 9.8 UZR/150.
As was touched on above, the problem with Iglesias is that he brings very little to the table offensively. Iglesias owns a slash line of .270/.315/.363 in his career, to go with a .297 wOBA and a wRC+ of 83.
Right or wrong, the Pirates seem committed to giving Kevin Newman an opportunity to prove himself in 2019. That said, they want to add a veteran back up behind Newman. And Iglesias would fit this role perfectly. Adding Iglesias would allow the Bucs to start Newman most games, and then go to Iglesias for defense late in close games.
When comparing Iglesias to fellow free agent, and long-time Pirate, Jordy Mercer, he is a slight downgrade offensively due to hitter for less power. Although, the two players get on base at a pretty equal rate. Combine Iglesias being the superior defender, and he is the better option of the two to mentor Newman.
Additionally, if Newman comes out in 2019 and proves to be in over his head Iglesias is a player that has been a starting shortstop for many years at the MLB level. He’d also be an upgrade over what the team has gotten from Mercer at shortstop the past five seasons.