There isn’t a position that the Pittsburgh Pirates need to address more than shortstop. For some reason, the Pirates felt it was a safe bet to roll with Jordy Mercer and Clint Barmes as the team’s two shortstops in 2014. So far, the plan to start Mercer and have Barmes as the backup just hasn’t worked out. Mercer hasn’t hit and Barmes has never hit.
The Pirates could solve their shortstop problem by making a trade for Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius. The DBacks have made it well known that they are open to moving Gregorius after he lost the starting shortstop job to Chris Owings in Spring Training. Gregorius is hitting well at Triple-A for the Diamondbacks, hitting .309/.395/.455 with a 128 wRC+.
Mercer is hitting just .208/.246/.285 and Barmes is hitting .220/.313/.268 this season for the Bucs. Mercer has started to turn things around in May, but he still isn’t playing at the level that the Pirates had hoped he would this year. The Pirates simply don’t have time to continue waiting for Mercer to finally find his stroke with the bat.
All the reports indicate that the Diamondbacks and general manager Kevin Towers are searching for a MLB-ready starting pitcher in exchange for Gregorius. The Pirates have a few of those in their system that could entice the DBacks.
Assuming these reports are true, let’s take a look at a few arms the Pirates could move in a deal for the slick-fielding young shortstop:
Jeff Locke: The lefty Locke was an All-Star in 2013 thanks in large part to an extremely low opponents’ BABIP. Even though he fell apart in the second half of the season, maybe Pirates general manager Neal Huntington could convince Towers to take a chance on Locke. Towers isn’t exactly known as one of the smarter general managers in the MLB.
Casey Sadler: Sadler is having a really good season at Triple-A for the Pirates. He is 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA. Sadler is showing very good control, with just 1.81 BB/9 this year in the Pirates’ system. He is a ground-ball pitcher, which would fit well at home run-friendly Chase Field where the Diamondbacks play their home games.
Other options could include Brandon Cumpton and Vance Worley, but I don’t think the Pirates have much interest in moving Cumpton, as he is probably going to take over as the team’s fifth starter as soon as next week now that Wandy Rodriguez is gone. As for Worley, his value isn’t exactly at its highest right now after having a horrible 2013 season with the Minnesota Twins. It doesn’t seem like the Diamondbacks value Gregorius all that much, so a trade involve Locke or Sadler could happen at some point before the trade deadline.