The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired infielder Steve Lombardozzi from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for cash considerations. He is not on the 40-man roster, but received an invite to Spring Training. This move is separate from the player to be named later in the Travis Snider deal and it comes on the heels of the Pirates losing Jake Elmore last night, who opted for free agency over an assignment to Indianapolis.
Lombardozzi is 26 years old and has seen most of his playing time in the big leagues at second base, while also taking turns in left field and third base. He hit .288/.297/.329 in 20 games with the Orioles last year and saw extensive playing time with the Washington Nationals in 2012-13. In 277 career games, he has a .638 OPS, with his best season coming in 2012 when he put up a .273/.317/.354 line in 126 games. Back in 2011, Lombardozzi was named by Baseball America as the best defensive infielder in the Nationals system and the best defensive second baseman in the Eastern League.
UPDATE 6:45 PM: Thoughts from Tim Williams…
I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that this move came less than 24 hours after Elmore elected free agency. Elmore projected as a utility player, which is the same projection that Lombardozzi has. The Pirates have been adding a ton of depth options this off-season, probably in an attempt to avoid a Michael Martinez/Jayson Nix/Brent Morel situation from happening again. This move seems to be in that same manner, adding more depth to the system. I don’t think Lombardozzi will have a shot to make the roster out of Spring Training, but he could have a shot of making it to the majors at some point this season.
I saw Lombardozzi play several times in 2010 against Altoona while he was with the Nationals’ farm system. I don’t recall a lot of opponents that play the Pirates’ minor league teams, but remember him because his dad, Steve Lombardozzi Sr., was in attendance for some of those games, working as the Pirates’ minor league field coordinator at the time (he held the position from 2009-2010). As I remember, Lombardozzi was fast and very athletic, kind of a spark-plug type player.
As a recap, the Pirates now have the following players projected to be infield bench depth out of Triple-A:
Hanson probably won’t be ready until mid-season, at the earliest. I’d say that Sellers would be the top option for depth early in the season, and Romero has gotten some good reviews out of the rest of the group. Aside from Sellers, Lombardozzi fits the backup utility role the best, since Ngoepe and Nunez are best as strong defensive shortstops, and Romero and Morel are best at third base.