Pittsburgh Pirates Arbitration Breakdown: Jordy Mercer

In the coming weeks here at Rum Bunter we will be taking a look at each arbitration eligible player for the Pittsburgh Pirates. We continue today with Jordy Mercer.

As Major League Baseball’s offseason begins, so does the decision making inside each of the 30 front offices. A big part of this decision making revolves around players that are arbitration eligible. Due to that, here at Rum Bunter we will take a look at each arbitration eligible Pirate in the coming days.

Today we take a look at the Pirates’ lone position player that is arbitration eligible this offseason. That is shortstop Jordy Mercer. And this is an intriguing one.

Jordy Mercer is coming off his third consecutive season as the Pirates’ everyday shortstop. In 2016 he earned 2.1 million dollars, and is set to earn a pay raise this offseason. But is he worth that pay raise?

The 2016 season showed two trends for Jordy Mercer. One was positive and one was negative. But we will start with the positive one.

2016 was the best offensive season Jordy Mercer has had since his rookie campaign in 2013. In 584 plate appearances he slashed .256/.328/.374/.702 with a .304 wOBA and a wRC+ of 89. Other than his wOBA, all of these numbers were the best Mercer has posted since his rookie season in 2013. Furthermore, he posted a career high 8.7 percent walk rate and a career low 14.2 percent strikeout rate.

The negative trend you ask? Mercer’s defense. In 2016 Jordy Mercer’s defense regressed for a second consecutive season. And at a position where defense is as important as it is at shortstop, this is not good.

Jordy Mercer rated as a below average defensive shortstop in 2016. This came after being above average in 2014 and then regressing to average in 2015. Obviously, this is a concerning trend.

Mercer logged 1,245 1/3 innings at shortstop in 2016. In these innings at shortstop he had a -10.1 UZR/150 and he was responsible for -9 defensive runs saved. This led to Mercer owning a -2.0 dWAR in 2016.

Overall, Mercer posted a 1.3 WAR in 2016. This indicates he was worth 6.3 million dollars in 2016. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Mercer is anticipated to earn approximately four million dollars in arbitration in 2017.

In my opinion, Mercer is worth this money in 2017. However, this should not stop the Pirates from searching for a better option at shortstop. Actually, they may have that player in house. This is due to Jung Ho Kang potentially playing shortstop again in 2017.

Jordy Mercer could be a strong utility bench player, but I am far from sold on him as an everday shortstop. Mercer definitely has value for the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates. The question, however, is where and in what role? That remains to be seen.

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