On the Pirates’ MLB.com website, they have seven outfielders listed on the team’s roster, which doesn’t include one who is on the 60-day injured list, and another who is listed as an infielder but probably projects better in center field.
Beyond Bryan Reynolds, Ben Cherington has a lot to sort through when it comes to starting to put together the outfield for next year’s team.
Looking past Reynolds, the Pirates have a lot of lefties, and players whose upside isn’t the highest, and fit more as depth/platoon contributors.
Jack Suwinski would be the closest to getting his name penciled into the lineup, after hitting 19 home runs last year, but he has some major home/road (.982/.395 OPS) and lefty/righty (.511/.795 OPS) splits to work through before he can truly be looked at as an everyday player.
The outfield picture looks even more lefty heavy, and cloudier, when you factor in Ji-Hwan Bae and Canaan Smith-Njigba into the picture.
Bae got a 10 game audition this past year, and while he originally came up as an infielder, he played more in the outfield (six games) than at second base (four games). His speed and upside as a defender plays better in the outfield, and he was even able to push Reynolds to left field for a game.
Smith-Njigba was acquired in the Jameson Taillon trade, and showed great contact skills in the minors (.277/.387/.408, 118 wRC+ with Indianapolis in 2022), before breaking his wrist in his second game in the major leagues, missing the rest of the season. Having a player that makes consistent contact could help, as the Pirates struck out the third most times this past year.
Miguel Andujar was brought in last, after being DFAd by the Yankees, and played left field when he didn’t DH. He’s the rare righty in the outfield right now for the Pirates and even he has a lot to prove before you can safely pencil him in as an everyday player.
The biggest issue with the current construct of the outfield is the overwhelming amount of lefties they have in the picture. Of the players currently listed on the 40-man roster, only Reynolds and Andujar aren’t left-handed hitters.
However they go about it doing it, getting some clarity, and more balance, seem like the top priorities this offseason when it comes to the outfield.
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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.