Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Pirates are interested in shortstops Jason Bartlett (of the Rays) and J.J. Hardy (of the Twins). Both are likely to be with new teams by Spring Training.
Acquiring Bartlett three years ago, as the Rays did, would have been great, but since then he has gotten worse in the field, and he has never been much of a hitter. Hardy, though, would be a great idea – he isn’t a zero with the bat, isn’t old, and plays above-average defense. This last item is critical – the Pirates’ pitchers were repeatedly let down by their defense last year. Incumbent shortstop Ronny Cedeno wasn’t the worst offender in that regard, but acquiring a new shortstop will upgrade that position while potentially – hopefully – allowing Cedeno to take some starts at second when a groundball pitcher like Paul Maholm is on the hill. There’s also the possibility that the Pirates could non-tender Cedeno if they acquire Bartlett or Hardy by tomorrow’s non-tender deadline, but I wouldn’t count on that happening.