The news that everyone knew was coming was made official on Thursday, as the Pirates announced the signing of shortstop Bobby Crosby. The one-year contract is worth $1 million, though it is laced with additional incentives.
"To get an opportunity to play, I thought Pittsburgh would be a good fit for me in my career," Crosby said over the phone from Pittsburgh, where he had his physical on Thursday morning. "They're going to give me a chance to compete. At this point in my career, that's all I want."
Though the Pirates haven't necessarily declared an open and official competition for the starting shortstop job this spring, the addition of Crosby certainly makes that a possibility. Ronny Cedeno still sits atop the depth chart for now, but the Pirates have made it clear that they felt another shortstop was needed to push Cedeno's maturation process.
"I think anybody needs to be pushed a little bit here and there," manager John Russell said. "[Cedeno] showed people in Pittsburgh he can play short. He makes great plays. He can drive a ball and can do some very fun things. Then sometimes, you'll go, 'What was that?'
"I think even though he's played a while, I still don't think he's a veteran player," Russell continued. "So, I think he falls into that mental lapse, concentration lapse on the field, and we just need to get him more concentrated and focused."
Even if Cedeno keeps the starting job, the addition of Crosby gives the Pirates an insurance option should Cedeno get hurt or struggle at any point during the year. Without Crosby, the Pirates really had no other Major League-ready option at short.
"What I remember [is he has] very good tools, strong, athletic," said Russell, who once managed Crosby in the Arizona Fall League. "But I haven't really seen him up close in a while."
Crosby comes to Pittsburgh having come up short of the expectations set in Oakland after he signed a five-year contract worth $12.75 million in 2005. Though he was a Rookie of the Year winner in '04, Crosby has hit better than .239 just once in his career (.276 in '05). His high in home runs (22) and RBIs (64) came during his rookie campaign.
"I'm excited to move on [from Oakland]," Crosby said. "It's definitely weird when all you know is one place. But we felt coming here to Pittsburgh was the best move for me."
Crosby, a first-round pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, is certainly looking to establish himself as more of an offensive threat, and should he have a good 2010 season, the infielder could set himself up to enter free agency next year with an increased number of suitors.
"I know there are a lot of young guys here and a lot of talent," said Crosby, who is spending his season working out in Southern California. "Hopefully I can come here and we can get things moving in the right direction. It's exciting."
Crosby, who confirmed that he and agent Paul Cohen were talking to multiple teams this offseason and had additional offers, also said he is 100 percent healthy.
"I had my share of injuries in my third and fourth years," he said, "but for the past two years, it's only been nicks."
As for Cedeno, it's those periodic lapses in the field and at the plate that have left some doubt in management's mind about his ability to be an everyday player. Pittsburgh acquired Cedeno in a Trade Deadline deal with Seattle last season, after which Cedeno hit .258 with 21 RBIs in 46 games.
The 26-year-old shortstop left Pittsburgh after the season hopeful that was enough to be strongly considered as a starter heading into the 2010 season.
"I'm so happy here," Cedeno said. "I don't know what their plan is and if it's for me to be the everyday shortstop, but I want to be here. I don't want to say I'm the guy. I'm playing like I want to be the shortstop every day and I want to be here for a long time."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.