Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Utility Man JT Riddle


Following a free agent signing on Friday, the Pittsburgh Pirates 40-man roster is now full

Friday evening, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced their third MLB free agent signing of the off-season. Joining catcher Luke Maile and outfielder Guillermo Heredia is super utility man JT Riddle. This was also their third free agent signing of the week, after adding Robbie Erlin and Derek Holland via minor league deals on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.

With the addition of Riddle, the Pirates’ 40-man roster is now full. It had been sitting at 39 players following the team’s trade of Starling Marte on Monday.

Riddle has spent each of the three seasons on his MLB career with the Miami Marlins, which is also the only professional organization he has ever played in. Last season, Riddle played in 51 games for the Marlins. These games were split between shortstop and center field.

In his 51 games last season the left-handed hitting 28-year-old slashed a woeful .189/.230/.371 with a career high .182 ISO. While his ISO was a career high, so was his 30.2% strikeout rate and his 3.6% walk rate was a career low. He was worth 0 defensive runs saved at both shortstop and in center field. When the dust settled on his 2019 season, he had a negative fWAR for the first time in his career.

Overall, Riddle has played in 223 MLB games. He has slashed .229/.269/.368 with a .139 ISO, 5.2% walk rate, and a 22.1% strikeout rate in his MLB career. All 31 of Riddle’s career games in center field came last season, and he has logged 176 games at shortstop. Prior to last season, he was a plus defender at shortstop with a +7 DRS in 2017 and a +6 DRS in 2018.

Riddle signing a MLB contract is a bit of surprise. He seems like a player that could have been had on a minor league deal, but that was not the case. He figured to compete with Erik Gonzalez for a super utility role off the bench this season, with it being very possible that both players could head north with the team following Spring Training.

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After this signing general manager Ben Cherington did say that Riddle is not the team’s answer for center field help. After Marte was traded, it was reported that the Pirates were interested in adding center field help via free agency. This continues to be the case, with Billy Hamilton, Cameron Maybin, and Kevin Pillar continuing to look like the three names to monitor.