First Pitch: Where Will All of the 1B/OF Options Fit?
The Pittsburgh Pirates have added a lot of 1B/OF options for their major league squad in the last year. They traded for Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez at the trade deadline. They acquired Clint Robinson in a minor trade with Kansas City. Starling Marte made the jump to the majors in the second half of the 2012 season. They got Jerry Sands in the Joel Hanrahan trade. They signed minor league free agents like Felix Pie, Brad Hawpe, and Darren Ford.
Almost every move has been greeted with speculation that the Pirates are setting up for a Garrett Jones trade. I wouldn’t completely rule that out, since there have been plenty of rumors about Jones. Since most of those rumors involve other teams balking at the Pirates’ high asking price for Jones, I’ll just say that a trade seems unlikely. There’s also no pressure to make a deal. Despite all of the above additions, the Pirates have places for almost every player to play in the top two levels. Here is a look at where everyone would fit in.
1B – Garrett Jones/Gaby Sanchez Platoon
I’ve seen a lot of either/or discussions with Jones and Sanchez. Mostly it has been people worrying that Jones would be traded and Sanchez would be the primary starter. For now they’re set to platoon at first base.
LF – Starling Marte
RF – Travis Snider
BN – Jose Tabata
BN – Alex Presley
I’m certain that Marte will get a starting job. Snider would have the inside track out of the other corner outfield options. You could add Jerry Sands to this mix, although I think he starts in Triple-A. The guys who are out of options are Travis Snider and Jose Tabata, so both would have to be in the majors on Opening Day.
1B – Matt Curry
DH – Clint Robinson
3B – Matt Hague
I’d expect the Pirates to promote Matt Curry to Indianapolis, which already happened at the end of the 2012 season. Clint Robinson should start off in Triple-A, as he has an option remaining. Matt Hague was outrighted to Triple-A. What makes this easy is that Hague can play third base, and Indianapolis uses a DH, allowing all three to play.
LF – Brad Hawpe
CF – Felix Pie
RF – Jerry Sands
Pie can play center field, which leaves the corner outfield spots open. If Sands makes the majors then his spot would be taken by Alex Presley (assuming Presley would be the one going down, since he’s the only other outfielder with options).
The only person without a spot here is Darren Ford, who would probably take a bench role and get some starts when Hawpe or Pie need a break. With 12 other players, the odds are strong that Ford will see regular playing time at some point this season.
The only prospect who might be held back by this is Adalberto Santos. He had some great numbers in Double-A last year, then carried that hitting over to the Arizona Fall League. Santos can play second base, although the Pirates have their own jam in the middle infield (Jordy Mercer, Chase d’Arnaud, Josh Harrison, and only one of them is projected for the majors). The Pirates could still promote Santos to Triple-A, which would move one of Hawpe or Pie to a part-time role, assuming no injuries.
If the Pirates add another Jerry Sands/Travis Snider type, then I’d start to reconsider the chances of a Garrett Jones trade. If they add another Brad Hawpe type, that’s not going to change my opinion that a trade is unlikely. The biggest impact that a minor league free agent could have is keeping Santos in Double-A to start the year, kind of like how Brock Holt was kept in Double-A at the start of the 2012 season because there were too many middle infield options in Triple-A. For now they’ve got a platoon at first, a starter in left field, four players battling it out for a starting job and two bench spots, and a bunch of depth options in Triple-A. That’s a lot of options, but not too many options, and it doesn’t force a Jones trade.
Links and Notes
**The 2013 Prospect Guide is now available. The 2013 Annual is also available for pre-sales. Go to the products page of the site and order your 2013 books today!
**The eBook version of The 2013 Prospect Guide is also available through our publisher. They also have a discount code during the month of January that allows you to save 20%. Use the code JANBOOKS13 to get the discount. This code is only valid on the eBook on the publisher’s web site, and not the books on the products page of the site.
**Speaking of Jones, Charlie had a good article about the possibility of trading him over at Bucs Dugout.