Days after Tigers general manager Al Avila joked about finding a shortstop sometime before Spring Training, he has found one. The team announced Friday it has signed former Pirate Jordy Mercer to a one-year contract.
The two sides reached an agreement Wednesday on the $5.25 million deal, pending a physical. The Tigers held off on announcing or confirming until that was complete.
The Tigers entered the offseason searching for a veteran defensive shortstop to replace free agent Jose Iglesias and stabilize an otherwise young infield group. Their preference was a short-term deal to serve as a stopgap until prospects Willi Castro and Sergio Alcantara are ready to compete for the big league job.
"One of our priorities this offseason was to sign a shortstop, and Jordy is a solid addition to our ballclub," Avila said in a statement Friday. "He was one of the players we targeted heading into the offseason, and we're really drawn to his consistency, both on the field at a premium position and in the clubhouse as a player that is a true veteran leader."
Mercer was one of the Tigers' primary targets along with Adeiny Hechavarria and Freddy Galvis. The 32-year-old was Pittsburgh's primary shortstop for most of the last six seasons, including postseason berths from 2013 through 2015. His Defensive Runs Saved ranged from 9 in 2014 to -9 in 2016 and 2018. He has posted a -0.3 Ultimate Zone Rating in each of the past two seasons.
Offensively, Mercer owns a .256 career average and .699 OPS. He hit .251 (99-for-394) with 29 doubles, six home runs, 39 RBIs and a .696 OPS this past season. He has traditionally hit well off left-handed pitching, with a .294 average and .812 OPS against southpaws.