The Pirates have been busy this week, setting their rosters to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, and tendering contracts to their eligible players on Friday night. They even worked a trade by the end of the evening, sending Kevin Newman to the Reds.
With the 40-man roster set, and after Friday’s roster decisions, I felt it would be good to take a look at what to expect from each position the rest of the offseason.
I would expect the Pirates to add a catcher this offseason. I would also expect Endy Rodriguez to arrive in the majors at some point in 2023. Thus, I don’t expect the catching addition to be anything more significant than Roberto Perez last year. In fact, Perez wouldn’t be a bad option if the Pirates felt he could be healthy this year.
The Pirates traded for Ji-Man Choi, who looks like a platoon option at first base. The Pirates could use someone to pair with him. I’ve written before that Miguel Andujar looks like an option for the 1B/DH role (in the last version of this rundown style article in September). He only has 37.1 career innings at first base. His ability to play third and left field will get him in the lineup, but his playing time opportunities will be greater with a move to first. I saw Jason Mackey speculate the same thing tonight. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Pirates let go of Michael Chavis when they added Andujar, and I expect that to carry over to Andujar replacing Chavis as the right-handed hitting first baseman next year.
As I got to writing this section, the Pirates traded Kevin Newman. That’s fitting. Newman wasn’t in line for a starting role, and would have been a backup to both middle infield roles. The Pirates could use a backup now. As for the starter at second, I think Rodolfo Castro gets the first shot, with Ji-Hwan Bae as an option, and Nick Gonzales trending in the right direction in the minors. By the end of 2023, Gonzales could be the starter, with Castro and Bae off the bench.
I don’t think there has been a reason to move Oneil Cruz off the position, and the Pirates don’t really have anyone right now to move him. Other than a backup middle infielder, I don’t expect the Pirates to do much here. It’s also entirely possible that the Pirates don’t add a backup middle infielder, and stick with internal options — which also include Tucupita Marcano and Diego Castillo.
The Pirates have a Gold Glove runner-up in Ke’Bryan Hayes, and a minor league Gold Glove third baseman in the minors in Jared Triolo. I could also see Castro and Andujar getting time at this spot as backups.
I’m grouping the outfielders together because of the center field situation. Bryan Reynolds is the current center fielder, but the Pirates would benefit by getting a better defender and moving Reynolds to left. That would likely leave Jack Suwinski to right. Ji-Hwan Bae has been playing center field, but I don’t think the Pirates should be banking on him to be the long-term option.
I think the biggest impact the Pirates can make to their position player group is adding a center fielder with solid defense — and maybe even someone who can set the table for guys like Cruz and Reynolds.
At first base, you’ve got Choi and Andujar as options. Cal Mitchell is an option in the outfield, who will likely get more time as the DH. I could see the Pirates adding another first base option, mixing in with Andujar for the 1B/DH spots.
This is where I think the Pirates need the most help. I think they could use two starters, and ideally one of them would be more than a reclamation project. Jeff Reed wrote about the 2023 rotation last week. The Pirates tendered contracts to Mitch Keller and JT Brubaker today, and I don’t think there was any doubt that both would return to the rotation.
The Pirates just added reliever Dauri Moreta in the Newman trade. That will add depth to the bullpen, but it won’t solve the biggest need here. The Pirates need a complement to David Bednar, in order to avoid burning out their best reliever with over usage. They just retained Robert Stephenson and Duane Underwood Jr. As for Moreta, he has options, and isn’t a guarantee to make the roster on Opening Day. I think they need someone to slot in above Stephenson/Underwood.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**The night looked like your standard “Pirates wait until way after the deadline to announce expected moves” type of night. That was quickly followed by a surprise trade of Kevin Newman to the Reds for relief pitcher Dauri Moreta. You can read more about the trade here.
**In a minor move, the Pirates lost Junior Fernandez to the Yankees on waivers.
**Jeff Reed has the latest Pirates Discussion, looking at where the Pirates’ 40-man roster stands after the Rule 5 decisions. If you missed it from Thursday, our latest Roundtable looked at who the Pirates could lose in the draft.
**John Dreker has the latest winter league recap, with Jared Oliva and Ali Sanchez each picking up a pair of hits.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
Check out the latest Pirates Discussion from Jeff Reed, who broke down where the 40-man roster stands after the Rule 5 additions.
Saturday at noon, John Dreker will have the latest Pirates Winter Report, featuring Diego Castillo, who is playing in Venezuela.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.