On Wednesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates swung a five-player trade with the Cleveland Indians for their first trade of the offseason
A few days after their first free agent signing of the offseason, when they re-signed infielder Jung Ho Kang, the Pittsburgh Pirates have swung their first trade of the offseason. In this trade, the Bucs, as they did in re-signing Kang, helped to bolster their 2019 infield.
In the five-player trade, the Pirates acquired utility infielder Erik Gonzalez from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for outfielder Jordan Luplow and infielder Max Moroff. The Bucs also received pitching prospects Tahnaj Thomas and Dante Mendoza in the deal.
Gonzalez is a 27-year-old Dominican native and comes with four years of team control. He will not be arbitration eligible for the first time until after next season. Pirate GM Neal Huntington had the following to say about Gonzalez:
“Erik Gonzalez is an athletic middle infielder who plays solid defense and has the potential to be a productive hitter at the Major League level. He gives us another option to play shortstop or in the middle of our infield this year and into the future.”
The past three seasons Gonzalez has accumulated 275 plate appearances at the MLB level and he owns a .263/.292/.389 slash line to go with a .293 wOBA and a wRC+ of 78. Gonzalez can play all over the field having played all four infield positions, left field, and right field for the Indians. He also played center for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers in 2016 and 2017.
For 2019, Gonzalez figures to factor in as a super utility option for the Pirates along with Pablo Reyes. It would not be a surprise to see both make the Opening Day roster. As for Thomas and Mendoza, both pitched in the rookie league this past season and both were top-30 prospects for the Indians. Look for more on these two new pitching prospects on the site later this week.
As for the return going to the Indians, the Pirates gave up essentially nothing. After not being a September call-up, it was obvious that Moroff was not in the Pirates’ future plans. Odds are, he would have been designated for assignment at some point this offseason.
As for Luplow, while he flashed great power in the minor leagues it never transitioned to the MLB level. It appeared Luplow would figure into the team’s right field equation with Gregory Polanco set to miss the first six to seven weeks of the season, but there are plenty of better options out there than Luplow.