Pittsburgh Pirates: Outfield Options for 2022 Season

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes a catch during the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals of game one of a doubleheader at PNC Park on September 18, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes a catch during the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals of game one of a doubleheader at PNC Park on September 18, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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CINCINNATI, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 20: Ben Gamel #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates at bat during a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 20: Ben Gamel #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates at bat during a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

Returning outfielders

Bryan Reynolds is, obviously, the stalwart in the Pirate outfield. He is the face of the Pirate franchise and one of the best all-around outfielders in baseball. Reynolds is coming off a 6.0 WAR season in which he posted a 142 wRC+. His second season of at least a 130 wRC+ and a 4.0 WAR in three MLB seasons.

During the 2021 season Reynolds was an All-Star, was a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award finalist, and his 8 triples were tied for the most in Major League Baseball. Reynolds will continue to be the team’s superstar in 2021, with him being entrenched in center field being the lone guarantee for the Pirate outfield in 2022.

After signing a $1.8 million contract to avoid arbitration, Ben Gamel will return to the Pirates for the 2022 season. Gamel is coming off a season in which he posted a 101 wRC+, his best since 2018, and a 1.2 fWAR which was his best since 2017.

Gamel is one Pirate player who could still be traded before the season begins. If Gamel is not traded then he will be a starting outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates when the 2022 season begins. He could be an option to bat leadoff when the season begins.

Another intriguing returner in the outfield is Anthony Alford. Alford was the team’s starting center fielder when the 2021 season began, but after a woeful start to the season he was designated for assignment.

To Alford’s credit, he went down to Triple-A, improved, and returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August. Alford accumulated 119 plate appearances in the August and September, hitting for a .266/.328/.477 slash line to go with a 114 wRC+. When the dust settled he finished the season with a 93 wRC+ and .717 OPS despite his terrible start. It would not be a surprise to see the Pirates give the former top-100 prospect an extended look to start the 2022 season to see if he can build upon his strong finish to the 2021 season.

Jared Oliva also remains on the 40-man roster. However, with Oliva failing to get an opportunity last season despite the Pirate outfield situation being a mess combined with his sub-.700 OPS in Winter Ball this offseason, it is hard to envision Oliva ever being a contributor for the Pirates.

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