Williams: Breaking Down the Pirates Roster After the Deadline

With the 2022 MLB draft and trade deadline wrapped up, we have nothing to do the rest of the season except watch this losing Pittsburgh Pirates team finish their season.

Fortunately, they’ve made it entertaining so far.

Even if they continue losing more often than winning, the remainder of the season will give a chance for younger players to break into the majors — with the hope that they can fill some holes on the 2023 roster.

Let’s run through the system after the draft and deadline to see where this team stands, and what they need next year.

CATCHER

2022 Starter: Roberto Perez was signed to be the starting catcher this year, but went down after 21 games and 69 plate appearances. The Pirates are currently going with a combination of Jason Delay and Taylor Davis.

2023 Projected: There’s not really a projected starter for 2023. My hope is that Delay establishes himself as at least a backup down the stretch, because in reality, both spots are wide open.

Top Prospect: Henry Davis is injured in Altoona, and hasn’t shown the best receiving skills. Endy Rodriguez is doing well as a catcher in Greensboro since the promotion of Davis. At the earliest, the Pirates won’t see a full-time starter from the minors until 2024.

Analysis: The Pirates are going to need catching in 2023. It might not be a bad idea to bring back Roberto Perez and pair him with Delay. The Pirates should probably look for more catching depth to hold them over until one of Davis or Rodriguez arrive.

FIRST BASE

2022 Starter: Yoshi Tsutsugo was the starter coming into the year, and just got his release following the trade deadline.

2023 Projected: Michael Chavis has emerged as the first base option in place of Tsutsugo. Chavis is more of a bench guy and a platoon option at best. The Pirates will need to upgrade here.

Top Prospect: Previously, it was Mason Martin. The recent addition of Malcom Nunez might change that. Either player could arrive in the next year.

Analysis: The Pirates could see what they have with Martin the rest of this year. If they don’t, he might not be in the plans for them with Nunez now pushing from a level below. Unless they’re bringing one of these guys up in 2022, they should look for outside help to start the 2023 season.

SECOND BASE

2022 Starter: Diego Castillo won most of the playing time out of Spring Training. He hit for power, but not much else.

2023 Projected: Recently, the Pirates have seen Tucupita Marcano and Kevin Newman stepping up. Newman is arbitration eligible, but would be a good bench option at both middle infield spots. The Pirates have enough internal options here that they don’t need to add from the outside.

Top Prospect: Termarr Johnson is the new top prospect, but he’s a few years away. Liover Peguero is the top prospect in the upper levels, though he’s currently a shortstop. Ji-Hwan Bae is the prospect closest to the majors. Nick Gonzales is injured right now, and was the top prospect coming into the season. Swing and miss issues have raised questions about his future.

Analysis: The Pirates don’t have a standout for the position, but they have enough options to eventually get a starter.

SHORTSTOP

2022 Starter: This period will henceforth be known as the time Before Cruz. (B.C.)

2023 Projected: Oneil Cruz.

Top Prospect: Liover Peguero is the only prospect in the upper levels who could move Cruz off the shortstop position. Cruz hasn’t really been bad, so there’s no need to focus on a prospect.

Analysis: All of the concern surrounding Cruz was getting his bat to the majors and worrying whether he could play shortstop. So far he has handled shortstop well, and has shown off power, but lacks average or on-base skills. It’s still early in his career, and he’s one of the core building blocks. I think their rebuild will start to click in the majors when Cruz starts to click in the majors.

THIRD BASE

2022 Starter: Ke’Bryan Hayes.

2023 Projected: Ke’Bryan Hayes.

Top Prospect: Ke’Bryan Hayes is under team control for the rest of the decade.

Analysis: Ke’Bryan Hayes, like Oneil Cruz, is going to be essential to the Pirates contending. His defense is already Gold Glove worthy. The offense is lagging, with a lack of power due to a negative swing plane. If that gets fixed, Hayes is a star third baseman.

LEFT FIELD

2022 Starter: Ben Gamel has gotten most of the time at the position this year.

2023 Projected: Jack Suwinski has surprised, and is currently in the minors working on hitting for more than power. Gamel is a free agent after the season, and the Pirates have a lot of outfield options beyond Suwinski.

Top Prospect: Suwinski leads a group that includes Swaggerty, Cal Mitchell, Bligh Madris, Canaan Smith-Njigba, and a few more outfield prospects in Altoona. Based on his performance this year, Suwinski should have the inside track.

Analysis: Ideally the Pirates can patch one of their outfield spots over the final two months. They have a lot of young players, but might need to bring in a veteran, even if it’s a bench guy who can start. Bringing back Gamel wouldn’t be a bad idea.

CENTER FIELD

2022 Starter: Bryan Reynolds.

2023 Projected: I hesitate to say Bryan Reynolds.

Top Prospect: Travis Swaggerty is the best center field option in the upper levels. The Pirates have a lot of outfield options, and none of them have stepped up. They also haven’t made a serious effort to extend Reynolds, and he’s constantly mentioned in trade rumors.

Analysis: The Pirates have held off trading other players until they have two years of control remaining. A similar path keeps Reynolds on the team for 2023. The Pirates should try to make an attempt to contend with him next year.

RIGHT FIELD

2022 Starter: Cole Tucker played 18 games in right field this year.

2023 Projected: Suwinski should get one starting spot. Right now the Pirates have Cal Mitchell and Bligh Madris in the majors, and one of those two could emerge as a starter in 2023.

Top Prospect: It’s the same group as left field, and Suwinski can only fill one spot.

Analysis: Mitchell is my pick to emerge as the answer for 2023.

DESIGNATED HITTER

2022 Starter: Daniel Vogelbach split time between first base and DH with Tsutsugo, before being traded.

2023 Projected: The Pirates don’t have a great option here. They could use this position to rotate the younger players into the lineup more often.

Top Prospect: Mason Martin and Malcom Nunez would be the top candidates, due to their power bats.

Analysis: I’m a fan of the designated hitter, but the Pirates need a first baseman before they can think about this luxury.

ROTATION

2022 Starters: Jose Quintana was traded at the deadline. Everyone else will be in the 2023 projected rotation.

2023 Projected: With the way Mitch Keller is pitching since adding his new sinker, he will lead the group. Roansy Contreras should join him. JT Brubaker, Zach Thompson, and Bryse Wilson are all rotation candidates.

Top Prospect: The Pirates have a lot of starting options. The ones who can make the biggest impact are Mike Burrows and Quinn Priester, who are in Indianapolis and Altoona, respectively.

Analysis: The Pirates could use a starter or two from the outside, while shifting guys like Wilson and Thompson to depth roles. Their rotation lacks experience, so adding a guy like Quintana again would make sense. In fact, Quintana himself would make a lot of sense. I think Burrows and Priester will be worked in by this time next year, which could be the start of a nice group if Keller and Contreras are performing well.

BULLPEN

2022 Starter: David Bednar is the standout. The Pirates have seen good things this year from Wil Crowe, Duane Underwood Jr., and Chris Stratton before the trade.

2023 Projected: Bednar will be the closer. Crowe and Underwood Jr. have locked down roles. Yerry De Los Santos has been impressive in his rookie season. The Pirates added Colin Holderman, and will develop him as a late inning guy.

Top Prospect: Holderman is the guy I’ll highlight, since the Pirates have a lot of their best pitchers still vying for rotation spots.

Analysis: The Pirates could use a late inning reliever to pair with Bednar. This would also take pressure off the younger Holderman.

THIS WEEKEND ON PIRATES PROSPECTS

Williams: Breaking Down the Pirates Roster After the Deadline

Prospect Roundtable: Who Was Your Favorite Trade Deadline Acquisition?

Prospect Roundtable: Evaluating the 2022 Pirates Draft Class

Malcom Nunez: Making Progress In Unlocking Raw Power

Miguel Yajure finds trust and comfort with the Pirates

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CTBucco

What do we think of going after Martin Perez, LHSP for Texas? He’s having a very nice year at 31 y-o. He’s making $4M this year, but is 9-2 with a sub 3.00 ERA. I would consider offering him 2 yrs at $10M/yr with a team option at $12.5M for a 3rd year. There’s risk because his prior years in Boston and Texas were not this good. Though Boston certainly isn’t a great home park for LHPs.

AdministrativeSky236

Personally i think hes a one year wonder, but theres probably a team out there that will offer him over 15m for at least 3 years and im not sure hes worth that for us

CTBucco

It’s a good point. Unlike Quintana who had a history of strong seasons followed by a couple of years of poor performance, Perez has had a string of mediocre-to-bad with this one really good season. I wouldn’t go $15M for him either in BC’s shoes. His K-rate is less than 9/9 innings. He’s another mid-rotation guy.

His hard-hit and line drive %ages are down and his GB% is up, but none of his underlying numbers look like wild outliers except that they’ve mostly moved in the right direction. Maybe he’s just figured out how to pitch? Or, maybe he’s just had an extraordinary string of good luck? Hard to know. But I guess a guy like Wade Miley is a better option for one year given his consistency (assuming the shoulder is OK) and lower cost.

Last edited 53 minutes ago by CTBucco
MShaeffer4444

Reynolds isn’t getting traded. He literally just said he wants to stay here, and everything I’ve heard about him suggests he isn’t the type to want an exorbitant amount of money. They’ll get an extension done this offseason.

emjayinTN

Cruz hasn’t really been bad, and Cruz has handled Shortstop well – are you running for office, Tim? Let’s see . . . SRod, Newman, EGon, Tucker – it’s easy to make the case that Cruz is our best SS since Jordy Mercer defensively with a 979 fielding percentage over his first 38 games in MLB.

Cruz does strike out a lot – about as much as Michael Chavis, but Cruz is also hitting a HR every 17 AB’s and already has 27 RBI’s – the leader on our team has 34 RBI. This exposure to MLB pitching is a fantastic learning experience for him, Mitchell, Suwinski, Marcano, and pretty soon, Castro, Bae, and Martin. The speed at which a decision has to be made at bat in the majors cannot be duplicated at AAA – this will pay dividends in 2023.

We need to jetison 4 players soon to make room for Suwinski, Castro, Bae, and Martin. Can Kevin Newman can play 1B? We need a RH 1B to alternate with Martin – IMO, it’s either Newman or Chavis.

emjayinTN

Tim: Why do we not DFA some of the players who do not project as roster players in 2023? If they clear waivers and somebody picks them up we save about 35% of their contracts. For instance, in the cases of Gamel and Newman that could mean $1.3 mil if both are picked up by another team. I doubt we are going to go to Arb with Newman, and Gamel will be a FA. Allen and VanMeter together would mean another $535,000. I’d add Marisnick but he has made a year of being on the IL.

With what was saved on Stratton, Quintana, and Vogie, this is money that could be put towards a FA signing.

joebaseball

“Cruz hasn’t really been bad” Should read Cruz really has been bad. He can hit for power when he swings at balls in the zone, but has real problems with the curve, or any breaking pitch. He has a strong arm, but not an accurate one. Needs to consistently throw 4 seamers to first base so as not to bounce them in the dirt. His base-running is very bad. .These are skills he should have learned on the way up.

Cape Cod Sean

Darn. Even if Cruz pops and ascends to an all star level with this script we will still be nowhere close to competing. To many gaps, question marks, and prayers to consistently compete. Ugh.
Gaps at 1B, DH, one OF spot, a couple of starters, and catcher. That’s if Reynolds and Bedard aren’t traded. That’s hoping Haynes bat comes around, Cruz continues to elevate, Keller keeps it up, someone wins and owns the 2b spot, and the injury bug stops biting.

I do feel good about the bullpen amazingly enough. The left side of the infield I also feel good about even with the question marks. We have multiple long term options at second and catcher. 1B, DH, OF and SP seem really weak for our needs. Here’s hoping some of the college pitchers drafted in 22 work out. Should definitely look to buy a few more rentals in 2023 and a longer term 1B/DH option along with a SP to compete in 2024 at the earliest. 2023 giving it a no shot already.

Last edited 3 days ago by Cape Cod Sean
AdministrativeSky236

Uh erik bedard hasnt been on this team in a bunch of years

1979andCounting

Couple of question marks with this article.

Vogelbach never shared 1B with Yoshi. He never even started a game at 1B. Played only 5 innings there.

Pirates are auditioning Madris at 1B and he’s looking the part in SSS despite having no experience there. Martin is not part of the conversation anymore at 1B or DH with his swing and miss issues at AAA.

Mentioning only 4 bullpen guys when we need 8? Omitting Dejong when he’s having a Clay Holmes type of year?? Beede has the stuff to stick as well.

emjayinTN

Good points; let me add – Madris never played 1B in the Pirate org until just recently at AAA where he made 4 errors in 10 games (.951). He is 26 and Chavis 27 and both are 6/1 K/BB folks at the MLB level.

This team needs help badly at 1B. Martin just turned 23, is a 4/1 K/BB at AAA, but is still the leader at AAA in doubles (18), HR (15), and RBI (59), while fielding .989 in about 600 Chances. We need to give this kid a chance.

Malcom Nunez, 21, is young, but at AA he has hit well and for power (463 Slg), less than 2/1 K/BB, and fielded .994 at 1B in 68 games, 500 Chances. A converted 3B who just started playing 1B in 2022. BTW, he fielded .945 at 3B as a 20 year old.

CTBucco

I agree completely that Martin needs to be given another opportunity to show improvement in his contact skills at AAA next year. He’s still relatively young. I think he and Nunez split 1B and DH at Indy to start next year. There will be plenty of ABs for them since no one else needs time at those spots (well, maybe Shackelford).

Given the season he’s having, Martin will be exposed in the Rule 5 again. I hope he gets through. Other than Cruz and maybe Suwinski, there isn’t another 30 HR guy (until Davis) that we can project into the lineup.

ST1300b

Also like this speculation …
I have a few differences of opinion though.
SP is key target for me: Chris Bassitt or Jameson Taillion est $8M to go with Keller, Ro, Bru. Zach or Bryce could be 5 OR Burrows/Oviedo gets a shot at it. I’m pulling for Ovi which just makes pen depth stronger.

1b is key also: Mancini, Muncy, or Jose Abreu est $10M
if stretching $ try for more than one of the above.

As for the OF I like the available guys: Allen should be leadoff and regular LF, BRey, and Cal Mitchell in RF. Everyone else should fight for RF if Cal isn’t ready.

Catcher I’m good with Bins, Delay, and Sabol competing for 2023 with Davis and Endy in 24.

DH should be Captain Jack. Let him go full Dave Kingman!

IF- Hayes, OC, and Marcano start for my money. Newman, Chavis locks for the bench. Castillo, Bae, Park top options. I wouldn’t mind Whit Merrifield as vet signing here est $5M

Relief is fluid but I don’t agree on a need for more.
Renegade has Crowe, De lo, Holderman, and Underwood as setup capable maybe even Beede. So many other arms for long relief like Peters, DeJong, Banuelos, Beasley, etc.

IF SP and 1b aren’t pursued in FA (or potentially as an off season trade) then Bob and Ben aren’t even trying and damn sure should be called out for failing the organization.

KirkV12

So a free agent signing for the following positions:
1B, C, OF, DH, SP, SP, RP

Unless we pull off some real wizardry, I imagine ML average guys at those positions would run ~$75M. Maybe we get a Quintana for $2M again, find a lefty platoon guy for 1B, and have better luck with a cheapish RP, knocking $25M off that, but a lot would have to break in the right direction to fill all those holes adequately with less than $50M.

I bet we go for the scrap heap with most of these signings, spend $25M total, and end up with 1 or 2 quality contributors out of it all.

Then again, I would forgive any amount of cheapness if they signed McCutchen as a veteran outfielder to pair with Reynolds and the winner of the rookie corner OF battle…

MShaeffer4444

Only way they’re signing Cutch next year is if the Brewers win the World Series this year.

mikeschalke

Cutch is done. Brings no value at this point.

KirkV12

I’m sentimental

piratemike

How come nobody hits for average anymore. You would think that prospects would be batting at least .280 or higher at 3A or 2A before considered for a call up. What’s up?

TurnerWardHitsTheWall

Excellent article Tim! I do hope we get Roberto Perez back for next season at catcher.

Timbertopper

Hi, Tim. Hate to break into a thread but I’ve sent 4 or 5 emails requesting access to our Premium content since renewing my subscription in June. Also tried submitting a request through my account. Crickets. Can only assume you’re not receiving the emails.Here’s the info. Please reach out if you have questions or need further info. Thank you.

Invoice# – 624FC29-0005
Receipt# – 2352-9991

$34.99 paid (VISA) on June 30, 2022

bucket of jim bibby sweat

I’ve sent 2 emails. Same question.

jaygray007

At what point to we stop penciling Martin into future lineups. His k rate is 37. I’d be concerned if it was *twenty* seven.

Of course he could correct course and be good someday but at this point that has to be the surprising outcome. Not the expectation

We should simply root for them to sign a real 1b.

Last edited 4 days ago by jaygray007
MShaeffer4444

Should still give him a chance, but I’m thinking 1B will be filled by one of the outfielders that gets converted to 1B/

bucket of jim bibby sweat

yesterday.

jaygray007

Bell or Abreu would be great and not break the bank, in theory.

mikeschalke

Way too expensive!

jaygray007

shouldnt be!

SBRO

My offseason plan and shopping list:

C – re-sign Perez, peg Delay as the #2 . Either Bins or sign an NRI as the #3 .

1B – Sign Wilmer Flores, who probably won’t get more than a 2-year deal on the open market at an AAV the Pirates can easily afford. Right handed but no real platoon penalty. Bonus is he can play other infield positions in a pinch. Not-so-crazy crazy idea is to trade one of our 8 outfielders to Boston for Hosmer, who would only cost the Pirates the minimum salary since San Diego is paying the rest.

2B – leave as is. Roster Newman, and let him, Bae and Castillo work out who gets the bulk of innings at 2B.

SS, 3B, CF – leave as is.

Corner OF – sign/trade for a 4th OF as a safety net, because I’m not even sure about Suwinski. Ideally it’s a righty to counter all the lefty-hitting OFs they have. The main problem with this is all the free agent RH corner OF types are having shitty seasons. Wil Myers, Robbie Grossman, AJ Pollock, Tommy Pham, Adam Duvall, etc.

Rotation – try to get Dinelson Lamet now, have him audition for the Quintana bounceback role over the next 2 months. If you like what you see, shopping is done. If not, I’d target Johnny Cueto or Zach Davies. Mid-rotation guys who can be had on reasonably short contracts.

Bullpen – Agree with Tim, they need one more late-inning arm. There are too many to count, but set your sights higher – $4M gets you a better brand of hurler. We’ve seen what you get at the $1.5M (Shreve) and $2.5M (Hembree) levels. No thanks.

TNBucs

Evidently, we passed on Lamet as the Rockies claimed him and we would have had priority over them.

SBRO

Oh to be out-hustled by the Rockies. That’s not a badge of honor.

SBRO

I’ll note that I didn’t intend to go “cheap” here, but rather “short term” where at every position except 1B there’s a 50 or higher FV option set to debut within the next 2 years.

It does so happen that short-term contracts also happen to be the cheaper ones.

But my rough guess as to what a starting C, starting 1B, starting P, late-inning bullpen arm and a 4th OF would cost is $25M – $35M.

AdministrativeSky236

Say the bucs spend 15-20 mil this offseason, would yinz rather they plus a bunch of holes (vet starter, LHRP, and 1B could all be had for that money) or try to throw 15m at just one player and probably get good quality

tmcgowan

This is a fun game….With $15m-$20m incremental (vs. already inline raises for certain contracts, arb guys etc)

Catcher – 1 year, $3.5M Austin Hedges. Defensive specialist without much more and buys us another year to get Davis / Endy ready. STill a blackhole offensively

1b- I think Trey Mancini mutual option isn’t picked up and he signs for 3 years $30M. Alternatively I think Max Muncy would be available for a similar amount (dodgers buyout the $13M deal for $1.5M so Muncy can be a bounceback bet)

SP – Ross Stripling – has been an unsung guy his entire career – he has made $10M in his career and I think could be had for a 3 Year $20M deal.

$3.5M +$10M+$6.5M = 20M.

That isn’t the most eye popping offseason but I think realistic.

Gurganus

Tim I’ve emailed multiple times, the Facebook page and the subscription page ..I’ve put posts on here multiple times. I believe I’ve paid for my site but I’m locked out of premium content for months. Can someone please msg me back. There’s no other way to contact.

Last edited 2 days ago by Gurganus

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