The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a relatively slow offseason until the last week or so. Could they still make one more headline-grabbing trade?
Early in the offseason, it became rather clear that the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to trade outfielder Starling Marte. During the Winter Meetings, it was one of the few rumors that came out about the Pittsburgh Pirates. The other major rumor regarding the team had to do with second baseman Adam Frazier.
There were multiple reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates were actually receiving just as much, if not more, interest in the left-handed-hitting second baseman. At the time, it actually seemed more likely that Frazier would be the first major trade by new General Manager Ben Cherington and not a Starling Marte deal. Teams like the Oakland Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies seemed like obvious fits.
At one point it seemed the Pittsburgh Pirates were closing in on a deal. Susan Slusser, a beat writer for the Oakland Athletics, tweeted that the Athletics did indeed have significant talks for the Bucs second baseman, along with at least two other teams. She tweeted back in December:
However, here the Pittsburgh Pirates are just a few weeks away from spring training and Adam Frazier is still on the team. This could be that the team is not getting the right package back for the improved second baseman. But it could also be similar to the Starling Marte trade in that the new front office is being very diligent with their decision.
This week, the Pittsburgh Pirates rounded out their 40-man roster by signing utility player J.T. Riddle. Riddle was let go by the Miami Marlins earlier this offseason and has the ability to play shortstop and some outfield. Obviously, if a player can play shortstop they should be able to play the other infield positions as well.
Why bring Riddle in on a Major League contract and, in turn, have him take up the final 40 man roster spot? The team already has infielder Erik Gonzalez, who if compared to Riddle at least had a strong month of September last year. Plus the team has former first-round pick Cole Tucker who saw time in the big league last year.
Earlier in the offseason, many fans liked the idea of the Pittsburgh Pirates trading Adam Frazier, shifting Kevin Newman to second base, and allowing Cole Tucker to get a chance to prove his first-round value by getting an everyday spot. As the offseason has gone on, it has seemed less likely that a Frazier deal would happen. The JT Riddle signing might be a bit of a foreshadow of a Frazier trade.
Right now it seems the team has too many up the middle infielders. They have Kevin Newman, Adam Frazier, Erik Gonzalez, JT Riddle, and potentially Cole Tucker. On top of that, they have corner reserve Jose Osuna, who saw time at third base and first base in 2019. With a glut of infielders, the team may very well have a number of teams still interested in Adam Frazier.
Both the Oakland Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies have not done anything of relevance to patch their holes at second base. Maybe, like the Marte trade, the Pittsburgh Pirates are getting closer to a long-speculated Adam Frazier deal. The JT Riddle deal raised some eyebrows with the current glut of middle infielders so maybe in the coming days we will have an answer of whether or not the Riddle signing was a premeditated move to an Adam Frazier deal.