Gaby Sanchez a Backup Plan to Pedro Alvarez?

This afternoon at Pirate City, Gaby Sanchez was fielding ground balls at third base, rotating with Pedro Alvarez. Sanchez got some time at third base last year during Spring Training, and played four innings at the position during the 2013 season. Clint Hurdle said that the Pirates would be looking at Sanchez more this Spring.

“We’re going to get him some innings at third,” Hurdle said. “That’s one of the things we want to do.”

One of the big concerns with the depth of this team is that there aren’t many options at third base behind Pedro Alvarez. The Pirates could shuffle their infield around to move Neil Walker or Jordy Mercer to third, but either move would put Clint Barmes in the starting lineup, which would be a big offensive downgrade from Alvarez. Josh Harrison could play third, but doesn’t have the bat you’d want. Sanchez wouldn’t be ideal, but he’s not as bad as some of the other options.

“We’re going to have a Plan B and a Plan C if something were to happen to Pedro,” Hurdle said. “Gaby worked very hard last year. There weren’t that many opportunities for innings. We’re planning on getting him more innings this Spring to see where he can take it.”

One benefit to getting Sanchez time at third base is that it gives the Pirates options if they eventually acquire an everyday first baseman. Sanchez is strong against left-handed pitching, but hasn’t had the same success against right-handers. If the Pirates were to add an everyday guy at first, then Sanchez could shift to third base and platoon with Alvarez, or serve as a bat off the bench against late inning left-handers.

For now, the depth behind Pedro Alvarez is weak, and it looks like Sanchez will be one of the options the Pirates could turn to.

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • themmis

    What about having Russell Martin at 3B and bring up Tony Sanchez in case something happened to Pedro?

    Is there any indications of that Plan D?

  • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

    This is the only way potentially acquiring Morales would be worth it. If they’d be willing to platoon Pedro, it’d give him much better numbers and be much more efficient. However, I don’t believe they are any more seriously committed to this than they were last year, it’s a Plan C situation.

    • http://wkkortas.wordpress.com wkkortas

      Agreed, although it may be more of a Plan C or Plan 9 From Outer Space Option. As the team is built now, there’s still no viable option at first base against lefthanders outside of Gaby.

    • gregenstein

      Even in this circumstance, I don’t think Morales is worth it. With the injuries he’s had, I don’t think he can play every day at 1B (or anywhere else in the field). I’m not even sure he can do it every other day. So, you are still stuck with having to deploy a platoon at 1B. If Gaby’s already taking all the starts at 3B from Pedro against lefties, he can’t do it at 1B too without also taking a good many starts against righties, which nullifies his advantage.

      Anywhere, your post wasn’t advocating for his acquisition, only listing a scenario where he might be worth it. My view is that Morales is not worth it for any NL team. There just aren’t enough AB’s for him when you have no DH.

      He can spell your everyday 1B-man; he can not become him.

    • SteveW

      There is no scenario where Morales would be worth even a small amount of money prior to the draft. Once he wouldn’t cost a #1 draft pick, then an incentive-laden one-year deal might possibly make sense. Even then, however, it is doubtful due to his lack of defensive ability.

  • joshuabobby

    You’d like to think that Gaby and Pedro can be two every day players. But if they did have to platoon together, that would probably be the most ideal hitting platoon of all time.

  • elgaupo

    People keep thinking that Walker will eventually move to third. I don’t think you want to waste his athleticism at a position that a guy like Gaby can man adequately. Walker’s bat wouldn’t look that good at 3rd either.

    • TitoTheMidget

      3B is the more challenging defensive position.

      Also, I saw Walker play a lot during his time in AAA, where he played third. He was excellent at the position. He could really bring a plus glove to 3B, as long as someone could replace his value at second, which I don’t think Barmes would.

    • stickyweb

      Also, Walker’s bat is slightly above league avg for 3B. It’s better as a 2B, but not bad as a 3B.

      • brentgates

        Batting .251 is not above the league average and Walker might as well not even step to the plate against left handed pitching. Provided Pedro stays healthy for the season, Josh Harrison getting a spot start here and there doesn’t seem to be an issue.

  • burghdood

    Wondering if part of the thinking is having Gaby work out at 3rd. to get serviceably comfortable there on defense; let the MLB draft come & go (June?); pick up Morales afterwards for a few Million (while KM & Boras sweats), without surrendering their draft pick to cover first for a few years; THEN platoon Gaby & Alvarez for a probable bump in WAR vs. Pedro alone, THEN face an egg splattered Boras re: the Pedro contract redo; pointing out: hey, Pedro’s got power, sure, but is ideally just a platoon 3rd. baseman (or am I giving the NH too many points for craftyness)?

    • joshuabobby

      gives you a chance to figure out Lambo as well. I doubt Morales lasts that long but it certainly would be ideal for us.

      • burghdood

        With fewer teams willing to give up draft choices for overpriced & flawed vets, I’ll bet quite a few players will be available right after the draft…not sure if J Smoak fits that bill (or had a qualifying offer?) Plus, depending on who’s available (perhaps an almost pro-ready college 1st or 3rd baseman), even more leverage could be applied by NH to a now grovelling Boras!!

        • SteveW

          The draft is only relevant for the couple of players who had qualifying offers and have not signed. It is not relevant to Smoak, among many others, since he was not a free agent and is still under contract.

          Also note that giving up draft picks is only an issue when it comes to free agents who had qualifying offers. That was a small number of players, even at the start of the process. Teams cannot trade draft picks and most free agents do not cost them any draft picks.

  • The Masked robshelb

    .

    Our infield. Who goes where, next ?? (Starts at around 2:05)

    Classic footage.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzZYZj0i3Og

    Sanchez to third, Mercer to second. Which allows Walker to go play third when Harrison isn’t. Barmes back in at SS, unless he can’t hit. Then Mercer back to SS and Harrison moves over to second. Lambo goes from 1B to OF when Ike Davis gets off the elevator and appears in the scene.

    Whew !!!
    .

  • habitfooted

    I think I must agree for the Plan B or C if that will be the only the option. If it looks like Pedro becomes weak and now its time for Gaby Sanchez to make a turn for Pirates. Considering too that Sanchez is stronger against left-handed pitching. Anyway, let us just see what happens.