Pittsburgh Pirates: Freddy Galvis and Erik Gonzalez
One comment from the Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager at PiratesFest was about the team’s shortstop situation. One of those comments raised some eyebrows.
Other than the Pittsburgh Pirates payroll, the hottest topic at PiratesFest was what the team will do with in terms of their opening shortstop spot. Fans wanted to know what the team’s plan was after seeing Jordy Mercer sign with the Detroit Tigers and Kevin Newman struggling mightily last September. So with Newman not locking down the position last year and not really showing signs of deserving a shot, the team needs another shortstop.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been connected to multiple different shortstops who are, or could be, available. The obvious candidates are the free agents. The main free agent shortstop that the team was connected to is former Phillies and Padres shortstop Freddy Galvis. The other shortstop they have been connected to has been via the trade block. Arizona Diamondback’s shortstop Nick Ahmed has apparently been a player that the Pittsburgh Pirates have called on. Then, of course, there is the dream that the team could be in on Manny Machado, which obviously and unfortunately is not likely.
So with most of the offseason being passed, what are the Pittsburgh Pirates going to do at shortstop? One questioned this at PiratesFest and asked Neal Huntington if the team was interested in Freddy Galvis. Huntington, of course, responded in his convoluted ways and did not really give a direct answer about Galvis. Instead, he responded by speaking about the team’s internal options:
"“We feel like we got a young Freddy Galvis. His name is Erik Gonzalez,” Huntington said. “We feel like we got a young Jordy Mercer. His name is Kevin Newman. We feel both players can be what they were or better. There’s the really good chance they’re going to be as good if not better than what Freddy Galvis or any of the others who are out there right now or any of the players we can get in a trade right now.”"
This is what every fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates did not want to hear. It is not even anything against Erik Gonzalez, who was a former top 10 prospect in the Cleveland Indians system who has been blocked by their current all-star shortstop. However, what the real issue is the team had only a few holes to fill this offseason and has a very low payroll. The last thing fans want to hear is that the team is going to roll with players who “could be” as good as two average players like Mercer and Galvis.
Now one thing is that Neal Huntington did not necessarily say that the team is not looking for another shortstop. He did his usual comments about how they like their internal guys and are ready to go into the season with them. His comment about Mercer and Galvis could be more based on the person’s question asking about Galvis. The person asked specifically about Galvis and Huntington may have responded in terms of comparing what is on the roster now to Galvis. More or less, he likely was pointing out that Galvis does not represent an upgrade over Gonzalez.
Regardless of what Huntington meant, the team still needs to be searching for an upgrade at shortstop. They need to keep pace with the rest of the National League Central and on paper that is their weakest position. Erik Gonzalez might turn into a decent everyday player, but he has not proved it yet at the MLB level. This is something that the Pittsburgh Pirates fans are getting sick of, waiting and hoping a player takes a big step forward.