Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates News

Bucs have second-base depth behind Harrison

Barring trade, J-Hay clear headliner, but Frazier, Rodriguez, Moroff have ability to start
February 1, 2018

With Spring Training approaching, it's time for an in-depth look at the Pirates' roster. This is the third part of a series checking in on their current and future options at each position. Next up: second base.Big question: Is this still Josh Harrison's job?After seeing the Pirates deal away Gerrit

With Spring Training approaching, it's time for an in-depth look at the Pirates' roster. This is the third part of a series checking in on their current and future options at each position. Next up: second base.
Big question: Is this still Josh Harrison's job?
After seeing the Pirates deal away Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, Harrison requested a trade if they won't contend over the next two years. Pirates officials have predicted they will be more competitive than expected, seemingly suggesting they don't feel obligated to trade the super-utility man. Still, Harrison's future remains unclear.
As slowly as this offseason has developed, it's still possible another club could make an offer between now and Opening Day -- or even during the season. Various reports have linked Harrison to the Mets, Yankees, Brewers and Blue Jays.
The starter: Harrison
For now, anyway. If he stays, the 30-year-old will spend most of his time at second base now that the Pirates have Colin Moran and David Freese at third base.
Harrison led the Pirates with 3.3 Wins Above Replacement in 2017, slashing .272/.339/.432 with a career-high 16 homers. His season ended on Sept. 2 due to a left hand fracture, the result of his 23rd and final plunking of the year. That high hit-by-pitch total (painfully) boosted Harrison's on-base percentage to .339, his best mark since 2014.
Harrison will earn $10.25 million in the final guaranteed year of his contract. The deal includes two club options worth $10.5 million in 2019 ($1 million buyout) and $11.5 million in '20 ($500,000 buyout).

Backing up: Adam Frazier, Sean Rodriguez, Max Moroff
If Harrison is traded, these versatile infielders could start. Frazier posted a .276/.344/.399 line overall, but he rebounded well from a pre-break slump to hit .304 with an .822 OPS in the second half. There are still questions about his second-base defense, but perhaps he would benefit from more regular work at one position.
Rodriguez struggled offensively after rejoining the Bucs in August, but that could be attributed to his quick return from shoulder surgery last February. The Pirates believe Rodriguez will bounce back after a healthy offseason. He enjoyed a career year in 2016, putting up a .270/.349/.510 line with 18 homers.
The Pirates like Moroff's defense, and his ability to play shortstop could help him secure a spot on the Opening Day roster. His .200/.302/.325 slash line for the season wasn't pretty, but the switch-hitter quietly batted .278 with an .846 OPS in 84 second-half plate appearances.

Depth: Christopher Bostick, Erich Weiss, Pablo Reyes
Bostick, who made his Major League debut last season, will likely return to Triple-A after a strong season in Indianapolis, but he's on the 40-man roster and can play just about anywhere if necessary.

Weiss and Reyes will be in big league camp as non-roster invitees. Weiss, 26, slashed .274/.353/.422 in 104 games for Indianapolis last year while playing first, second and third base. Reyes, who posted a .765 OPS for Double-A Altoona last season, also played center field and shortstop.
In the pipeline: Kevin Kramer checks in at No. 10 on MLB Pipeline's list of top second-base prospects. His 2017 was cut short by injuries, but the 24-year-old showed more power while maintaining his high-average, high-OBP approach in Double-A. He could start the season in Triple-A.

The shortstop pipeline is still crowded, with Kevin Newman in Triple-A and Cole Tucker in Double-A -- and both coming to big league Spring Training. It's possible one of those former first-round picks could move over to second base or land in a utility role.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.