Milwaukee’s search for a shortstop is apparently over, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Brewers are close to signing Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2013.
That takes the Brewers completely out of the mix for Jimmy Rollins, who seemingly is now choosing between re-signing with the Phillies and replacing Rafael Furcal with the Cardinals.
As for Gonzalez … he’s 35 years old and coming off a terrible season at the plate, but when you just finished watching Yuniesky Betancourt for an entire season just about anything probably seems like a big shortstop upgrade.
Gonzalez is actually one of two active hitters with 3,500 plate appearances and a worse career on-base percentage than Betancourt, with the major difference being that his defense has been good enough to live with the extreme out-making most years. That may no longer be true at age 35–his defensive numbers slipped significantly–and despite smacking 15 homers Gonzalez was brutal at the plate this season, hitting .241 with a .642 OPS and 126 strikeouts versus just 22 walks in 149 games.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.