By Jason Shetler
As the Pirates are in the final month of the offseason, they’ve been able to address most of their needs with the only exception being a left-handed arm in the bullpen. The bench right now looks close to being complete with Sean Rodriguez, Chris Stewart and Jason Rogers. John Jaso and Michael Morse will come off the bench when the other is starting at first base. With one spot remaining, should the Pirates go out and bring in another bench piece?
The Pirates bench is very right-handed heavy with Rodriguez, Stewart, Rogers and Morse. The only lefty bat will Jaso on days that Morse gets the start against a left-handed starter. As far as internal options who can bat from the left side, the Pirates have a few with Cole Figueroa, Pedro Florimon and Alen Hanson. Figueroa last season did an excellent job of controlling the strikezone with an 8.7% walk rate to just a 5.3% strikeout rate, albeit against AAA competition, but still impressive nonetheless. Florimon provides little offensively, however his defense is very good. With the Pirates relying on pitching and defense, you wonder if they would carry a reliable defender off the bench despite not much offense. Hanson obviously has the most offensive upside of the three. The problem is that if Hanson makes the Opening Day roster, he falls under Super 2, which the Pirates most likely wouldn’t allow to happen.
There isn’t that much remaining on the free agent market. Kelly Johnson appeared to be a really good fit for the Pirates since he’s still a good left-handed bat, but he signed with the Atlanta Braves in January. The Pirates really don’t have a true fourth outfielder at the moment. Sean Rodriguez would likely be that option with his outfield defense being above average. David DeJesus is a free agent who is coming off a down season last year with the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels, but has usually been a reliable on base guy and decent defender, so perhaps the Pirates could look at him on a cheap one-year deal. Just a question if they want to add experience to the bench, or go with an inexpensive internal player until Alen Hanson arrives midseason.