According to Bill Brink from the Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Pirates have asked about Oakland A’s infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist, Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Cliff Pennington and San Diego Padres infielder Clint Barmes.
Pennington has mostly played shortstop during his career, but he can also play second and third base. He is hitting .245/.322/.292 in 61 games, mostly off the bench. He hits free agency at the end of the season, and combined with his offensive stats and remaining salary, the price to acquire him should be rather low.
Clint Barmes is having a strong season as a part-time player for the Padres. He is hitting .284/.324/.440 this year, which are well above the numbers he posted in any of his three seasons in Pittsburgh. Barmes has only been playing shortstop this season, but he can play the other infield positions in a pinch. He is a favorite of Clint Hurdle, so I’m sure he wouldn’t mind bringing Barmes back. With his defense and the way he is hitting, plus a salary much lower than Pennington, the Padres might be able to get a decent(better) return than Pennington would bring.
Ben Zobrist has been a much better player in the past, but he has really struggled in Oakland. In 61 games this season, he is hitting .258/.346/.423, so the numbers aren’t bad on offense. It’s his defense that has taken a hit, with an -0.8 dWAR according to Baseball-Reference. He has played shortstop in the past, but this season he’s just seeing time at second base and in the corner outfield. His value was higher when he was putting up bigger numbers while occasionally playing shortstop and center field and hitting better.
Zobrist seems like the best player to get for a pennant run, but not the best fit for the Pirates right now. He also has a much higher salary($7,500,000 in last year of contract) than the other two, so that could factor in on what a team is willing to pay to get him in a down year. Barmes might actually be the best fit for the Pirates right now, and it isn’t out of the question that they could get Zobrist as well, since they fill different needs. It’s just a matter of what they are willing to add when they know both Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison will be back for a pennant run.