Pittsburgh Pirates News: Erik Gonzalez Injured in Winter Ball

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates are working on getting ready for the offseason to start up and will have plenty of roster decisions.  One of their players got hurt playing this winter.

With the offseason getting underway and the Pittsburgh Pirates sounding like they are closing in on their next General Manager, the team will be able to really start to focus on constructing their roster for 2020.  As the Bucs start to make transactions over the coming month, they will also have to make roster moves.  Furthermore, the Bucs have several prospects they have to add to their 40-man roster before the Rule V Draft deadline.

This always leads to hard decisions about who or who should not be exposed to waivers or the Rule V Draft.  Other than players being designated for assignment, oftentimes teams will make trades to help clean up the 40-man roster. This has already started with the team trading away reliever Parker Markel to the Angels for cash considerations.

The Pittsburgh Pirates did this last offseason when they dealt infielder Max Moroff and outfielder Jordan Luplow.  Both were blocked and faced the potential of being cut off the 40-man roster.  Instead, the team found a creative trade to make it work.  They added pitching prospects Tahnaj Thomas and Dante Mendoza along with Major League shortstop Erik Gonzalez.

Speaking of Erik Gonzalez, he is likely one of the many players that is on the fence this offseason.  Gonzalez won the starting shortstop job out of spring training over Kevin Newman last season.  After a sluggish start to the season, Gonzalez found himself on the injured list after breaking his collarbone while colliding with Starling Marte.  During his time off, Kevin Newman proved that he deserved the job and put together one of the best rookie seasons in baseball.

Gonzalez worked his way back and was back on the roster for September when the bat started to heat up. In the final month of the season, the shortstop hit .322/.349/.407 while playing multiple infield and outfield positions.  Still, even during the best month of his career, he did not provide much in terms of power and still struck out nearly 23 percent of the time.

With Kevin Newman and Cole Tucker being ahead of him on the depth chart at this point, it seems likely that he could be a DFA candidate.  Those chances may have raised this week.  According to John Dreker of piratesprospects.com, Gonzalez hit a foul ball off his foot and now has a fractured foot.  Dreker goes on to explain that there is no timetable for his return.

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Being that it sounds like Gonzalez may not be ready for spring training and is down a few spots on the depth chart, Gonzalez has now become a possible roster casualty.  The injury is poor timing for Gonzalez as he looked to continue to work and improve during winter ball this offseason.