The Pittsburgh Pirates have valued veteran leadership this offseason and still need a backup middle infielder. This veteran free agent could check both of those boxes for the club in 2023.
General manager Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates have accomplished a lot of good this offseason. A common theme in many of their offseason additions has been the ability for those players to bring veteran leadership to a young Pirate squad.
Looking at what is left to be done this offseason, the team could still sue some bullpen help. The 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates could also still use a backup middle infielder. Specifically, a backup middle infielder that is a right-handed hitter.
Looking at the free agent market the middle infielders still available, especially those who can effectively play shortstop, are few and far between. One veteran player that is still available is José Iglesias. If Iglesias would be open to taking a job where he is not a starter, he could be a good fit with the Pirates.
First and foremost, Iglesias fits the team's need for a backup middle infielder who can play shortstop effectively while hitting from the right side. Adding a player who fits this bill is important for the Pirates. Not only do they need a backup shortstop, you would like to see it be a right-handed hitting player who can help protect Oneil Cruz against very tough lefties or to give Cruz a day off if he falls into a slump against left-handed pitching.
While Iglesias has never been a plus offensive player, he has always been a great defender. Iglesias has hit for a .279/.319/.382 slash line with just an 87 wRC+ and an OPS+ of 88 in his career. Defensively, however, Iglesias has always been strong at shortstop. Outside of an outlier of a 2021 season when he posted a -22 Defensive Runs Saved and 0 Outs Above Average, he owns a lifetime +8 DRS and +31 OAA at shorstop.
A third reason Iglesias would be a great fit with the Pittsburgh Pirates is that he would continue the trend of the front office bringing in veterans who can provide great leadership for young players. Austin Hedges will do that at catcher with Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis, Rich Hill can set a ton for the oyung starting pitchers, and Andrew McCutchen will be a leader for the entire clubhouse.
Iglesias could be a great defensive mentor for Cruz at shortstop. He would also join Carlos Santana as a great veteran presence and leader for all of the young Latin players on the roster, and those who will join the roster as the season progresses.
Now, adding Iglesias could be much easier said than done The 33-year-old could still be looking for a starting job in the majors, which, obivously, he won't find in Pittsburgh unless Cruz gets injured. But if Iglesias is on board with taking a reserve job, Pittsburgh could be a great fit for him.