The Pittsburgh Pirates filled their starting catching position with a defensive option in Rod Barajas yesterday. Could a defensive option at shortstop be next? Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Pirates are interested in former Detroit Tigers shortstop Ramon Santiago. The Pirates are interested in Santiago as an everyday option, according to Morosi.
Santiago is coming off a season where he hit for a .260 average and a .695 OPS. Over the last three years he’s combined for a .263 average and a .685 OPS. Defensively, Santiago is strong, with a career 3.6 UZR/150 at the shortstop position. He’s been great the past two years, with a 10.4 UZR/150 in 2011 and a 16.1 UZR/150 in 2010.
In my preview of the shortstop market, I highlighted Santiago for his defense. However, I’d question whether he could be a starter. He only started 62 games in 2011 between second and short, and started 78 games between the two positions in 2010. My preference at shortstop would be Clint Barmes, who has strong defense throughout his career at short, and an OPS around .700. Santiago is comparable to Barmes in both areas, although Barmes has shown he can maintain the success over a full season.
Realistically, the Pirates aren’t going to be players for Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins, which means they’re likely to go with a defensive option. That’s a good strategy considering the ground ball pitchers on the staff, and considering that shortstop is the most important position on the field as far as defense goes. Santiago would fit that mold.