The Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop situation in 2013 hasn’t been great, with guys like Clint Barmes, John McDonald and Jordy Mercer taking the field for the first few months of the season. McDonald is now with the Philadelphia Phillies and Mercer has slowed down after his hot start as the starting shortstop for the Pirates. Barmes is just Barmes, he’s not a good hitter that is out there for his glove.
The trade market for shortstops is far from great. In fact, it’s pretty weak. The best available option is probably Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. The Pirates have been linked to both Ramirez and White Sox outfielder Alex Rios, which leads to some speculation that the Pirates might try to swing a trade for both players.
The problem with Ramirez is that he isn’t a huge upgrade over Mercer right now. In 191 plate appearances, Mercer has a .257/.309/.383 slash line. Defensively, he has a 4.2 UZR/150. Ramirez, in 391 plate appearances, has a .286/.311/.358 slash line with a 6.7 UZR/150 on defense.
Rios is a better overall option for the Pirates to make a deal for, with his .270/.326/.429 slash line and a 5.5 UZR/150. Current starting right fielder for the Pirates, Jose Tabata, has a .293/.351/.431 slash line with a -30.9 UZR/150. Tabata is a bad fielder, but he is a very good hitter when healthy. The question with Tabata will always be his health.
Any deal the Pirates make, whether it is acquiring Rios, Ramirez or both, will need to involve the White Sox paying for some of the salary. If the White Sox were to not pick up any of the salary from Rios and Ramirez, the Pirates would be taking on nearly $40 million over the next three seasons.