— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 20, 2013
Ken Rosenthal broke the news at 12:15 pm on Wednesday that the Pirates picked up veteran infielder John McDonald. In return, the Bucs will be offering a player to be named later.
McDonald, 38, carries 14 years of major league experience, playing with Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto, and Arizona. Despite his age, he’s still a slick fielder that has the potential to be a useful backup. McDonald, who is a career .239/.276/.331 hitter, won’t do much at the plate, but has the ability to play shortstop, second, and third base.
He’ll make $1.5 million in 2013, so he’s pretty much guaranteed a spot on the roster. Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison, and Ivan De Jesus are currently battling for the second utility infield role, if the Pirates choose to go that route. Mercer is enjoying a nice spring offensively; however, he would probably benefit more by getting consistent at-bats in Triple-A Indianapolis instead of sitting on the bench in Pittsburgh. De Jesus, who was part of the Joel Hanrahan trade, has also had a good spring at the plate, but the club may not be sold on his defensive abilities. Harrison appears to be the likely candidate, unless they prefer to only keep one backup infielder. J-Hay isn’t much of a shortstop, but is capable of playing right field in a pinch.
Chase d’Arnaud needs thumb surgery, and will be out for 6-8 weeks. Therefore, he’ll be moved to the 60-day DL, opening a spot on the 40-man roster for McDonald.
By acquiring John McDonald, the Pirates solidify their shortstop depth. Assuming McDonald, Michael McKenry, and Gaby Sanchez are locks for the bench, that leaves two more spots to be filled before the team heads north. Besides Mercer, Harrison, and De Jesus, other players that are fighting for backup roles: Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, Brad Hawpe, Felix Pie, and Brandon Inge. Neal Huntington & Co. have just over a week to make their final decisions.