According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks about a trade built around shortstop Didi Gregorius. On the surface, the trade seems a bit unnecessary, considering that the Pirates already have Jordy Mercer and Clint Barmes at shortstop. However, Mercer is unproven and Barmes is aging.
If the Pirates do happen to pull the trigger on a potential Gregorius trade, there are a few ways the team could use the defensive shortstop. The most likely scenario could be a platoon situation. He is a much better hitter against right-handed pitching than he is against southpaws. If the Pirates want to, they could simply institute a platoon at shortstop. Mercer absolutely mashes lefties, so the platoon would make a ton of sense from that standpoint.
The value provided by Gregorius has never come from his bat. His value comes from his glove in the field. The shortstop has been rated as the best defensive player in the DBacks’ and Cincinnati Reds‘ systems for years. On the 1-8 grading system that scouts use, his arm and glove have repeatedly been graded as sixes and sevens. The Pirates rely very heavily on pitching and defense, so adding another stellar defensive infielder certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea.
As for what the Diamondbacks are asking for in return for Gregorius, they apparently want MLB-ready pitching to replace Patrick Corbin in the rotation. The Pirates have some MLB-ready pitching that could be dealt in the right deal. A few pitchers that the DBacks could have interest in are Jeff Locke, Brandon Cumpton and possibly Phil Irwin.
Locke was an All-Star in 2013, but he completely fell apart in the second half of the season. Cumpton is a steady fourth or fifth starter. Irwin is coming off of an injury-shortened season, so his value may not be very high at the moment. If we learned anything from the Justin Upton and Mark Trumbo deals in recent offseasons, we know the Diamondbacks aren’t exactly experts when it comes to getting back equal value in trades. If there is a trade to be had with the DBacks, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington should be all over it.