Ken Rosenthal reports that the Tampa Bay Rays are closer to trading shortstop Jason Bartlett than ever before, and mentions the Pittsburgh Pirates as one of five teams that have shown interest. I looked at two potentially available shortstops earlier today in J.J. Hardy and Ryan Theriot, but didn’t include Bartlett for a very specific reason. There are two things that stick out when I look at Bartlett’s career numbers.
First, there’s his hitting numbers:
2007: .699 OPS
2008: .690 OPS
2009: .879 OPS
2010: .675 OPS
One of these things is not like the other one. Bartlett improved his stock in 2009 with a huge year at the plate, but looking at his surrounding years, that looks to be a career year. Even his previous high of .760 in 2006 (in 333 at-bats) doesn’t come close to the 2009 numbers. Concern number two comes on the defensive side:
2005: 26.3 UZR/150
2006: 17.8 UZR/150
2007: 9.2 UZR/150
2008: 2.8 UZR/150
2009: -6.9 UZR/150
2010: -13.8 UZR/150
Bartlett has seen his defensive stats go on a steady decline every year, to the point where he was worse defensively in 2010 than Ronny Cedeno. Bartlett’s sub-.700 OPS isn’t much of an upgrade offensively over the current Pirates’ shortstop. He’s also only under control for one more season, and due a raise over his $4 M salary in 2010.
The Rays reportedly want bullpen help in exchange for Bartlett, and for the Pirates that could mean either Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek. I wouldn’t trade either player for one year of Bartlett. Right now he looks like a one year wonder at the plate, with declining defensive skills at the age of 31. I would much rather see the Pirates trade for J.J. Hardy, or try and get Ryan Theriot from the Dodgers.