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Ask BD: What to make of the Pirates' infield depth

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks again for the questions, everyone. Here's the second round of answers.

BattlingBucs: Any guesses on what the Pirates are planning to do with all these upper-level depth infielders? There appear to be too many for Triple-A.

In addition to Neil Walker, Jordy Mercer, Jung-Ho Kang and Sean Rodriguez, the Pirates also have Pedro Florimon, Justin Sellers and Alen Hanson on their 40-man, plus guys like Steve Lombardozzi, Gift Ngoepe, Gustavo Nunez and third basemen like Brent Morel and Deibinson Romero. That sounds like a lot, but what looks like tons of minor-league depth in February has a way of looking like something less than that in April, as players get hurt or find their way to other organizations.

Anyway, not all these guys will be big-league depth options, and not all of them will be at Indianapolis. The Pirates won't want to use someone like Hanson to solve any depth problems they might have at the big-league level. Some infielders, likely Ngoepe and Nunez, could start the season with Altoona. Also, Florimon is out of options, and there's no obvious spot for him in the big leagues, so the Bucs might be preparing to lose him at some point. Finally, Lombardozzi is also an outfielder, so the Pirates will be able to move him around the field at Indianapolis.

R3871H: Pursuant to this piece over at MLBTR, if Rickie Weeks could be had on a minor league deal, do you take him?

Definitely -- as frustrating as Weeks has been over the last few seasons, he's still much better than the typical minor-league signee, and if you have the opportunity to get someone like him for free, you can carve out space. But if Weeks is going to take a minor-league deal, I assume he'll have his choice of just about any team, and with Neil Walker entrenched at second and Jung-Ho Kang another interesting option there, I don't think Weeks would see signing with the Pirates as his best shot at a regular gig.

Skyvolcanoes: I was going to ask about the difference between this offseason (where the Pirates did a lot) and the previous offseason (where they did very little). More money made available to spend? Better options available to us that fit in our range? Some combination of the two?

There was probably more money to spend this winter, and the Pirates might have felt they had to spend a bit more to remain competitive, given the impending losses of Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez. But if you'll recall, the Pirates did try to spend more money last offseason -- notably on James Loney and Josh Johnson -- and just weren't able to. If they had signed Loney to a multi-year deal, this offseason and last wouldn't have looked so different, in part because they would have had Loney's salary on the books already.

Actually, they might have traded either Loney or Pedro Alvarez this offseason if that had happened. It would have been a strange winter for Alvarez.

BattlingBucs: Besides the obvious trio who look like they have a great chance to break camp with the club (Andrew Lambo, John Holdzkom and Kang), which rookie do you expect to have the biggest contribution to the team in 2015? As an aside, I’m sure its not as long ago as I’m thinking, but when was the last time the Pirates broke camp with three rookies on the 25-man roster?

I think it was 2009, when they started the season with Jason Jaramillo, Luis Cruz, Jesse Chavez and Rule 5 pick Donnie Veal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that team lost 99 games. Much has changed since then -- this year's rookies will actually be expected to contribute, and Kang is mostly only a rookie in the technical sense.

The obvious answer to your first question is Jameson Taillon, with Nick Kingham as another possibility if Taillon's recovery takes longer than anticipated.