The Pittsburgh Pirates need an upgrade at short, even after making a move this offseason. The club is rumored to be interested in a former All-Star.
When the offseason began, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Erik Gonzalez and two prospects for two players in a move that freed up a 40-man slot. Gonzalez, a light hitting but slick fielding shortstop by trade, can play all over the infield. With Kevin Newman looking to be the starter before the trade, Gonzalez brings some competition for the spot.
Neither player should really bring much confidence, STEAMER projects Newman at a .294 wOBA and 1.1 fWAR and Gonzalez at a .290 wOBA and 0.2 fWAR. The team supposedly has interest in slick fielding but low on-base ability Nick Ahmed, while also kicking the tires on switch hitter Freddy Galvis. Ahmed projects at a .292 wOBA and 1.1 fWAR and Galvis at a .289 wOBA and 0.3 fWAR. Those two players project similarly to internal options, and neither Galvis or Ahmed have much upside either to make any investment – be it in player cost or financial cost – to have a higher reward than the options currently presented.
The one shortstop on the open market who does is Troy Tulowitzki, the 34-year-old who was last seen on July 29, 2017 as he left the field with what would later be reported as ligament damage in the right ankle. He missed all of 2018 with bone spurs in the ankle, and was recently released by the Toronto Blue Jays, as they felt he was a sunk cost and any team can sign the veteran for $600,000.
The shortstop is projected at .255/.314/.420 with a .317 wOBA and 1.3 fWAR in 83 games, but it’s the upside that represents a potential worthwhile investment, and as such the Pirates have interest in him according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic ($). The Pirates don’t need the Tulo of the past, that version has been decimated by injuries playing in the thin air of Colorado and the turf in Toronto, the club would just need the projected 1.3 wins in 83 games to help in an attempt to have a two win shortstop. Anything more would be a cherry on top, and compared to the other options externally available, Tulowitzki would represent a player with the most upside at a lower cost to the team. It’s no surprise the club has some level of interest for those reasons.