Why is JT Riddle a Part of the Pittsburgh Pirates Roster?

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

With the 2020 season quickly winding down, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking like they will have the worst record in the National League, if not Major League Baseball.  There is one player who really needs to go.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are a bad Major League Baseball team, there is no denying that.  No one expected much from the Buccos, but there was always optimism for the young payers. Players like Kevin Newman, Bryan Reynolds, and Mitch Keller were all viewed as the most intriguing part of the Pittsburgh Pirates to watch, as they would likely be part of the next competitive window.

Beyond that, many were looking forward to seeing some of the players who were not with the Bucs in 2019.  This list includes some of their top prospects and players they brought in this offseason.  Players like Phillip Evans, JT Riddle, and Guillermo Heredia were brought in as younger players who had yet to be productive or get a real chance to play consistently.

Of course, Phillip Evans had a big time breakout through the first few weeks of the season.  However, he suffered a season ending injury.  Guillermo Heredia also spent very little time on the roster as the Pittsburgh Pirates quickly DFA’d him after a very uninspiring start.

While the team was very quick to move on from Heredia, they have not move on from an infielder who is similarly struggling.  In fact, one could argue that JT Riddle has been all-around the team’s worst player.  At least with Heredia, he provided decent defense at his position; Riddle cannot even do that, making four errors in just 16 games, including three at third base.  On top of that, he is slashing a really ugly .167/.200/.271.

Why in the world is he still on this roster?  One of the things about the 2020 season was that while they would not be good, the young players would get experience.  The team’s best player over the last two weeks has been top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes.  Hayes has played excellent, hitting the ball hard, making plays in the field, and using his speed on both sides of the ball.  Yet, every third game JT Riddle finds himself in the lineup at third base.

It makes sense to get Hayes as many at-bats as possible with the season winding down.  He needs to develop and become a core part of this team as soon as 2021.  Not playing him everyday right night now is not doing him, or the Pittsburgh Pirates, any favors.  Well, playing Riddle could help the team conceivably, if the goal is to the highest pick possible in 2021.

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Beyond that, JT Riddle really does not have a place on this team in 2021.  With players like Anthony Alford and Phillip Evans performing in the limited time, and JT Riddle continuing to scuffle, Riddle is the least likely to stick around.  This is especially true if the designated hitter does go away in the National League next season.  That would mean finding corner time for Bell, Hayes, Moran, and Evans.  JT Riddle has no business starting anymore games in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.  He is taking away at-bats from Hayes and is not part of this team’s future.  So why in the world is he still around?