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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Free Agency

To say that this year’s middle infield class is shallow would be an understatement. To put it simply, it makes a kiddie pool look as deep as an Olympic pool. One of the best options is Whit Merrifield, who hit just .272/.318/.382 last season. Merrifield only struck out in 17.1% of his plate appearances, but he was only able to walk at a 6.1% rate. Merrifield has never been one to hit for power and had just a .110 ISO last year. He clocked in with a wRC+ of just 90.

Merrifield’s defense at second base was okay with -4 DRS, but +4 OAA. However, he spent more time in the outfield where he was an even worse defender with -4 DRS and OAA. 2024 will be his age-35 campaign. Merrifield may still be a solid bench utility option, but his days as a regular could be behind him.

The same could be said about former Pirates all-star Adam Frazier, who is also a free agent. It’s been a rough go of things since the Pirates traded Frazier at the 2021 trade deadline. Last season, Frazier batted .240/.300/.396 with a .302 wOBA, and 93 wRC+. While his 14.9% strikeout rate and 7% walk rate aren’t out of the ordinary for him, and his .155 ISO is one of his better single-season remarks, it was a poor season overall as Frazier did not hit for much average. 

Once a Gold Glove contender at second base, Frazier had an atrocious year with the leather. He had -4 DRS, but -15 OAA at the keystone. That is the 4th lowest OAA total any second baseman has posted since the stat was created in 2016. Frazier only saw 64 innings in the outfield, but managed to rack up +3 DRS. Frazier, who is going into his age-32 season, may be best served in a utility role.

One of the higher upside free agent middle infielders is Amed Rosario. He is coming off a poor season where he hit just .263/.305/.378 with a wRC+ of 88. However, he was a slightly above-average hitter the two prior seasons, slashing .282/.316/.406 with a 103 wRC+. Rosario consistently posts a walk rate of around 5%, but an above-average, sub-20% strikeout rate. He doesn’t hit for much power and is good for about 10-12 home runs with about 13-15 stolen bases a season.

Rosario is a horrible defensive shortstop, and had -16 DRS and -14 OAA at the position. It is the third time in his career he posted double-digit negatives in OAA. After getting traded to the LA Dodgers, they moved him to second base where he saw more regular action. His defensive metrics looked much better with +3 DRS and a +18.2 UZR/150, with zero OAA, but it was in less than 200 innings at second.

The rest of the second base class includes utility players, or guys who have experience at second base, but is not their primary position. That includes the likes of Enrique Hernandez, Elvis Andrus, Tim Anderson, Donovan Solano, Isaiah-Kiner Falefa, Paul DeJong, and Joey Wendle.