Where Could Erik Gonzalez Fit In With The 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates?


Where could the newest member of the Pittsburgh Pirates fit in with the team moving forward?

On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates swung a five-player trade with the Cleveland Indians. This was the first trade of the offseason for general manager Neal Huntington and the Pirates. You can read the full details on that trade here.

By sending infielder Max Moroff and outfielder Jordan Luplow to the Indians, the Pirates received a pair of pitching prospects in return. However, the Bucs also received utility infielder Erik Gonzalez. This raises the question, where does Gonzalez fit with the Pirates in 2019?

Gonzalez is the perfect definition of a super utility player. During his three MLB seasons he has played every position except center field. However, he is capable of manning center having done so at the Triple-A level.

Despite his defensive prowess, Gonzalez has always struggled offensively during his time at the MLB level. He owns a .263/.292/.389 slash line and a 78 wRC+ in his career. His 28.7% strikeout rate is also alarming. However, these results have come in just 275 Big League plate appearances.

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Despite his offensive struggles, the right-handed hitting Gonzalez will have a great shot to make the Opening Day roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019. Even with the emergence of Pablo Reyes as a super utility man in September, there is still room for Gonzalez on the roster.

It would be a surprise if the Pirates did not add another shortstop this offseason. The Pirates now have three players on the roster capable of playing shortstop in Gonzalez, Reyes, and Kevin Newman. None of these players have proven they are worthy of being an Opening Day shortstop at the Major League level.

Due to this, look for the team to add a free agent such as Jose Iglesias or to potentially look at someone such as Nick Ahmed on the trade market. Assuming this happens, the addition of Gonzalez could then impact the makeup of the bench.

Adding Gonzalez allows the team to have Newman start the year at Triple-A if they so chose. Gonzalez can serve as the primary backup at shortstop, allowing Newman to play every day at the Triple-A level. Newman is best suited playing every day, but playing him every day at the MLB level, at least before he proves he is ready for it, is not a wise choice for a team looking to contend in 2019.

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Furthermore, the addition of Gonzalez should all but end Jordy Mercer‘s tenure in Pittsburgh. While the long time Pirate shortstop is now a free agent, there was mutual interest in a reunion this offseason. If a reunion were to happen though it was likely to be with Mercer serving in more of a utility role than as a starter. With both Gonzalez and Reyes on the roster, there is no room for Mercer to serve in a utility role.