Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pirates Acquire John McDonald

The Pirates have acquired 38-year-old backup infielder John McDonald from the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to Ken Rosenthal. Jon Heyman reports that the Bucs will send a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks in return. With the 40-man roster full, the Pirates placed infielder Chase d'Arnaud on the 60-day DL to make room. 

McDonald is in the second year of a two year, $3M contract, earning $1.5M in 2013. He doesn’t hit a lot, although he does have some very occasional pop, doesn’t walk a lot and doesn’t steal at all; last season he hit .247/.296/.380, above his .239/.276/.331 career line, pulling six home runs to left field. His value comes from leadership and being a veteran presence in the clubhouse, if you believe in these as having value, and, most notably, defense – especially at shortstop. McDonald has a career 7.6 UZR/150 at shortstop in 555 games, so will provide a strong back up defensively behind Clint Barmes.

With McDonald likely guaranteed a place on the bench with Michael McKenry and half of the first base platoon, leaving Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison, Ivan De Jesus Jr and Brandon Inge battling for the final infield bench spot. Inge and Harrison likely have the advantage, given their experience playing in the outfield; however I’d still like to see Mercer be given more of a shot this year with a view on him taking over from Barmes at short next season.