By Jason Shetler
This past offseason, the Pirates made a few moves to address their bench. Some of those included signing Chris Stewart to an extension, acquiring Jason Rogers from the Milwaukee Brewers and bringing back Sean Rodriguez on a one-year deal. As the Pirates are now at the midway point of Spring Training, has the bench already been decided?
The first base platoon of John Jaso and Michael Morse is of course going to have one of them on the bench while the other is starting. Chris Stewart will again be the backup catcher to Francisco Cervelli. Sean Rodriguez returns in the super utility role. Matt Joyce, who the Pirates signed about two weeks prior to Spring Training, is more than likely slated to be the fourth outfielder. With the recent addition of David Freese to play regularly at third base until Jung-Ho Kang comes back, now it becomes an interesting situation in regards to Jason Rogers.
Rogers is coming off a very good season last year for the Brewers, as he posted a 120 OPS+. The problem however is that he’s mainly a first baseman, so he does lack versatility. In addition, he obviously wouldn’t see much time as a third baseman due to the Freese signing. Rogers does have an option, so the Pirates could elect to send him to AAA Indianapolis where he would receive everyday at-bats there, mostly as a DH. The other alternative would be to trade Morse and have Rogers platoon with Jaso, which likely won’t happen. Other candidates include Cole Figueroa or Pedro Florimon,both of whom are steady defensive infielders. That could be beneficial, as the Pirates would need a reliable backup shortstop to Jordy Mercer, and for as versatile as Rodriguez is, he rates out as below average at short. While most of the bench appears to be set up, the final spot will come down to whether the Pirates want an above average bat or someone with more defensive reliability.