One of the needs that Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington had to fill at the 2013 Winter Meetings was the need for a defensive-minded shortstop.
He accomplished that goal by bring back a familiar face in veteran Clint Barmes.
ESPN’s Buster Olney was the first to report that Barmes was nearing a return to Pittsburgh, but the news was also confirmed by Jon Heyman and Dayn Perry of CBS Sports.
Barmes will make far less than the two-year, $11-million deal he inked the first time around as he will be returning on a one-year contract worth $2 million.
Clint Barmes’s contract with Pittsburgh: 1-year deal for $2 million.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 12, 2013
Due to his offensive woes, Barmes became the whipping boy of most Pirates fans, but given the team’s need for a strong glove guy up the middle, he was a logical player to bring back.
Barmes, who turns 35 in March, batted just .211/.249/.309 last year, but still grades out as a tremendous defender. That was the need here and Barmes fills it as well as anyone else the Pirates could have gotten in free agency.
With a team-wide approach as a pitching staff to get ground balls, the Bucs became the most grounder-inclined pitching staff in all of baseball last season. That approach won’t change in 2014, so Barmes has a lot of value to this current Pirates team.
Considering the fact that Barmes posted a +14.2 UZR/150 and +12 Defensive Runs Saved in just over 800 innings at the position, his contract is very team friendly for what he brings defensively.
Another thing that can’t go overlooked is what Barmes brings to the Pirates clubhouse. Despite his offensive deficiencies, Barmes is a leader and having him around for another season can only help youngster Jordy Mercer.
Barmes worked closely with Mercer last season and the results showed. Mercer is the far superior offensive player, but doesn’t come close to measuring up to Barmes right now as a defensive shortstop.
The youngster Mercer will likely open the season as the Pirates starter, but having Barmes’ glove in there late in games will turn into a luxury for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.