Clint Barmes was signed to a two-year, $10 million deal by the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to the 2012 season to bring a steady presence at shortstop. He had played with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle with the Colorado Rockies, so Hurdle knew what to expect with the veteran shortstop and thought he would be a good fit with the Bucs. Barmes’ two years are over now and he is a free agent, eligible to sign with any team.
Offensively, Barmes has been the equivalent of a black hole with the Pirates. In his two seasons with the Bucs, the veteran shortstop hit for a combined triple-slash line of .221/.263/.316; far worse than he has hit with any team in his career. In Barmes’ eight seasons with the Rockies, he hit for a .254/.300/.404 line, but some of that can probably be contributed to playing 81 games per season at Coors Field, a well-known hitters’ park.
Even without any offensive production, Barmes still has value as a backup. The Pirates seemingly already have their starting shortstop, Jordy Mercer. Barmes is the defense-first shortstop and Mercer is the shortstop that is productive offensively. In 365 plate appearances in 2013, Mercer hit for a .285/.336/.435 line with eight home runs and three stolen bases.
The reason Barmes still has value to the Pirates is because he is superior to Mercer and most other shortstops, defensively, and Mercer is bad defensively. Barmes would be a great option to bring in late in games to help preserve a lead. In 2013, Barmes’ 14.2 UZR/150 ranked second best among shortstops with at least 800 innings played. He is a defensive stud.
Along with being great defensively, he is also Hurdle’s favorite type of player — a veteran. Hurdle can’t have enough veterans, which is why Brandon Inge and John McDonald played on the Pirates for far too long in 2013. Like most years, there aren’t a lot of good shortstops on the free agent market. Barmes may be one of the better options, so he will get some decent offers. Because of the lack of options at shortstop, the Pirates should just focus on resigning Barmes.