Buster Olney of ESPN.com is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates and veteran shortstop Clint Barmes have agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million. The Pirates had been looking for some middle-infield help, and it appears they felt the best way to go about it was to re-sign Barmes for another year.
This move is going to come with mixed emotions from Pirates fans. The people that look at his offensive numbers and ignore defense will hate the signing, but the people that realize how important a sure-gloved shortstop is will look past his offensive deficiencies and agree with the move.
There is no question that Barmes is a liability offensively. The numbers he put up in 2013 were atrocious. In 330 plate appearances, he hit .211/.249/.309 with a 52 wRC+. For those of you that aren’t familiar with wRC+, 100 is average — Barmes was nowhere near average.
What kind of value can a guy with a 52 wRC+ have, you ask? Consider this — even with his horrific offensive season, Barmes still was better than replacement level players. In 2013, Barmes had a 0.6 fWAR. What Barmes lacks in offense, he more than makes up for on defense. In 2013, the veteran shortstop totaled a 14.2 UZR/150 and he saved 12 runs on defense. Add that to the fact that the Pirates are a ground ball pitching staff and that gives Barmes great value.
With Jordy Mercer on the team, Barmes will probably be the backup shortstop. His job will most likely be to start against some right-handed pitching and to come in for a late-inning defensive upgrade. At 35 years old, Barmes has proven that he isn’t capable of being an everyday player anymore, but he provides a ton of value off of the bench.