PITTSBURGH -- General manager Neal Huntington said on Sunday that Adam Frazier has stepped up and proven that he's ready to be the Pirates' everyday second baseman heading into next year. But Frazier's versatility will provide Pittsburgh's front office with some flexibility this offseason.Frazier has hit .324/.373/.545 with five homers
PITTSBURGH -- General manager Neal Huntington said on Sunday that Adam Frazier has stepped up and proven that he's ready to be the Pirates' everyday second baseman heading into next year. But Frazier's versatility will provide Pittsburgh's front office with some flexibility this offseason.
Frazier has hit .324/.373/.545 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 44 games, including 31 starts, since returning from Triple-A on July 25. Despite an early-season slump that got him demoted to the Minors, Frazier is batting .283 with an .801 OPS on the year.
Frazier has hit leadoff 39 times this season, and he might be the Bucs' best option atop the order on a regular basis next season. He's also playing the best defense of his young Major League career, especially at second base.
"There's no doubt that he's played better the more he's played at second base -- defensively, anyway -- and obviously has swung the bat really well in the second half," Huntington said on Sunday. "He's so versatile, and he's just a baseball player, so he's going to bounce back and forth. But it certainly would be to his advantage to be able to settle at one position."
That position will most likely be second base, but Frazier can also man the outfield. That should work to the Pirates' advantage, considering the uncertainty surrounding this year's regular second baseman and right fielder.
Josh Harrison has a $10.5 million club option for next season that the Pirates don't seem likely to exercise. Gregory Polanco will miss at least a few weeks, and possibly a few months, following shoulder surgery. Frazier can play second or right, freeing up Huntington to explore his options at two positions this offseason.
"It gives us a ton of flexibility to see what's out there and to see what allows us to put our best club on the field, short-term and long-term, as we talk about the 2019 season," Huntington said.
If the Pirates find a fit with an infielder, they could shuffle Frazier to right field and plug in someone at second base. If they want another outfielder, that player could fill in while Polanco is out then move to a reserve role, all while Frazier holds down second base.
The Pirates also have internal options, including infielder Kevin Kramer and outfielder Jordan Luplow, who could help bridge the gap while Polanco is out. They could even continue to move Frazier around; Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle have pointed to Harrison's success as an All-Star super-utility man in 2014.
"We're hoping [Polanco's recovery is] on the front end of the 7-9 months, but if it's on the back end of the 7-9 months, depending upon how Gregory's body cooperates … we do need to explore what's out there, mostly via the free agent market," Huntington said. "We will. We'll see what's out there. We'll see how we best utilize the resources that we have available to us in the offseason to put the strongest team on the field."
Around the horn
• Frazier was out of the lineup on Tuesday after exiting Monday's game early due to right knee discomfort. Frazier reported only a bruise and some swelling after fouling a pitch hard off his knee. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning, reaching on a fielder's choice, and then walked in the 11th before Ryan Lavarnway's walk-off hit gave the Pirates a 2-1 win.
• The Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America announced its annual awards on Tuesday. Starling Marte received his second Roberto Clemente Award (team MVP) in the past three years. Trevor Williams was named the Steve Blass Award winner as the team's top pitcher. Jameson Taillon received the Chuck Tanner Award for his character and cooperation with the media.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.