Pittsburgh Pirates: Analyzing Potential Second Base Options for 2024

The Pittsburgh Pirates could opt to fill second base this off-season, but what are their options, both interally and externally?
Sep 20, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Brandon Drury (23)
Sep 20, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Brandon Drury (23) / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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Trade Market

The trade market has some decent options, one of which could be Ha-Seong Kim. Kim is coming off the best year of his MLB career, batting .260/.351/.390 with a .330 wOBA, and 112 wRC+. The South Korean infielder walked at a strong 12.8% rate with a quality 19.8% strikeout rate. He also hit 17 home runs, a career high by six dingers. He has gotten increasingly better against MLB pitching since making his debut in 2021, but his glove is the real prize here.

At second base, Kim had +10 DRS and +7 OAA. The thing is, he racked up that many runs and outs in just 856.2 innings. He also played 253 innings at third base where he had +3 DRS and +2 OAA, and 153.1 more innings at short with +3 DRS and zero OAA. Combined, he had +16 runs saved and +9 outs above average through his defense.

Kim is only on a one year deal. While you may want to see a longer term player, the Pirates do have Termarr Johnson developing nicely. Kim would be a fantastic one year stopgap, and none of the veteran “just here to keep a seat warm” kind either. Another quality one year stopgap is Brandon Drury.

Drury followed up his strong 2022 season with another solid year. In 523 plate appearances, Drury hit .262/.306/.497, nearly replicating his .263/.320/.492 triple-slash from ‘22. While his 4.8% walk rate and 26% strikeout rate both were unimpressive, he also hit 26 home runs, the second in a row he’s hit at least that many. He finished out the ‘23 campaign with a .339 wOBA, and 114 wRC+.

Drury, while not known for his defensive prowess, looked decent at second base with only -1 DRS, but +5 OAA. While he mostly played the keystone, he also was put at first base for nearly 300 innings where he had -1 DRS and zero OAA. He was a better defensive 2B than he was at 1B, but he’s going to give you good defense at either position on the right side of the infield.

If the Pirates want to go after a guy with multiple years left, Jorge Polanco is already on the trading block by the Minnesota Twins. While Polanco missed nearly exactly half the season, playing in 80 games, he still hit well when given the opportunity. Polanco batted .254/.335/.454 with a .340 wOBA, and 118 wRC+. Polanco has always been a decent power hitter and went yard 14 times with a .199 isolated slugging %. He oddly struck out at a high rate with a 25.7% strikeout rate. For the first six years of his MLB career, he didn’t strike out more than 18.6% of the time in any season. But he did post the second best walk rate of his career at 10.5%.

Polanco has been a consistent thorn in pitchers' sides for years now. The last time he had a wRC+ below 110 in a 162 game season was in 2017. He could get even better in 2024 as he had a .351 expected wOBA and .486 xSLG percentage. But his defense at second base is lackluster. He had +1 DRS, but -5 OAA. Polanco is controlled through 2024 but has an extremely team friendly option for 2025.