By John Perrotto
The National League Gold Glove awards will be announced Tuesday night and there is a chance Ronny Cedeno could be the winner at shortstop. He is one of three finalists along with Atlanta’s Alex Gonzalez and Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki.
If Cedeno does win, he would be the first Pirates shortstop with a Gold Glove since Jay Bell in 1993. Ironically, it would also come one day after the Pirates effectively said goodbye to Cedeno after 2 1/3 seasons as their starting shortstop.
The Pirates declined Cedeno’s $3 million club option on Tuesday and it was a bit of a surprise. It is a relatively small salary for a starting shortstop and many in the organization do not believe that Chase d’Arnaud is ready to play the position at the major-league on a full-time basis.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington believes he can find a comparable player at the same price or possible less. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen but the pickings are slim on the free-agent market beyond Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins, who both figure to sign contracts far above the Pirates’ price range.
The Pirates also aren’t likely to sign Yuniesky Betancourt and Rafael Furcal either, because of both the potential cost and the fact that all of them, like Reyes and Rollins, would require the Bucs to give up draft pick compensation.
According to a person with knowledge of the Pirates’ thinking,
they would ideally like to sign a veteran who could begin the season as the starting shortstop. That would buy the Pirates time to give d’Arnaud at least another half-season of development at Class AAA Indianapolis.
If all goes well, d’Arnaud would be called sometime after the All-Star break and have the veteran as a mentor.
Three players who the Pirates are considering are Jamey Carroll, Cesar Izturis and John McDonald.
Carroll, 37, hit .290 with 17 RBIs in a career-high 146 games this year for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Izturis, 31, was limited to 18 games with Baltimore because of injury and batted .200 with one RBI. McDonald, 37, hit a combined .229 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 84 games with Toronto and Arizona.
This past season, d’Arnaud made his major-league debut with the Pirates and batted just .217 with six RBIs in 48 games while striking out 36 times and drawing just four walks in 151 plate appearances.
John Perrotto has covered Major League Baseball and the Pirates since 1988.