Pittsburgh Pirates News: Cole Tucker Returning to the Infield?


Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates moved one of their shortstops into the outfield.  It appears he could be finding his way back onto the dirt for 2021.

This past season was an off year for everyone involved.  This was especially true for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who saw significant change to their organization.  While there were a lot of changes to the Front Office and coaching staff, there were not a whole lot of changes to the actual roster.  Yes the team made some minor moves, but the Starling Marte trade was the only real significant moved made by Ben Cherington.

This offseason could represent an opportunity for Cherington to get aggressive and explore his veterans trade values.  One of those players that should be moved is Adam Frazier.  Frazier is a proven commodity at second base at this point and gives offensive production from the left side anywhere in the lineup.

Last offseason, it seemed almost assured that Adam Frazier was going to be traded.  However, Cherington was trying to stay conservative on trading players before having his own gauge on their value.  A player with Marte’s track record was a little easier to set a price for.  So could Frazier be the main offensive piece moved this offseason?  Recent comments by Ben Cherington suggest that there could be a spot opening up in the infield in 2021.  Rob Biertempfel along with others tweeted a quote from Cherington’s most recent press conference:

"“Our full expectation going into next year is that infield and shortstop (are) certainly a part of who he is and part of his game.”"

This is interesting as the team seemed pretty against the idea of giving Tucker time in the infield during the 2020 season.  In 2019, Tucker quickly showed that he is one of the best shortstops in the Bucs upper minors in terms of glove work.  Last year, the team had a lot of issues in the outfield and decided that it was more important for Tucker to get at-bats and play as much as possible rather than focusing on limiting his at-bats with Erik Gonzalez and Kevin Newman at shortstop.  Putting Tucker next to Hayes will setup a Gold Glove caliber left-side, although even with Gonzalez the defense would remain pretty good.

Furthermore, the infield should not be set for next year other than third base.  As I have already stated, Adam Frazier should be dealt this offseason.  This should pave the way for Kevin Newman to transition full time to second base.  Meanwhile, this will allow Tucker and Gonzalez to battle it out for the shortstop job.  In the early going last year, Gonzalez looked to be breaking out, hitting the ball hard and playing great defense.  In his final 24 games, Gonzalez hit a measly .184/.213/.253, numbers that reflect more his career norms.

So by no means did Gonzalez earn the starting job at shortstop.  Although, Tucker has yet to really take advantage of his opportunity as well.  Tucker was moved into the outfield last season so that the Pittsburgh Pirates could get him consistent at-bats.  Tucker did not hit much either, slashing just over .200 across his final 24 games.

Next. Preparing for an odd offseason. dark

The biggest reason Tucker should be considered at shortstop before Gonzalez is because Gonzalez only has one year of control let.  The former Cleveland product is entering the final year of arbitration. Tucker has four more years of team control, and therefore has a better chance at being part of this team’s future.