Current 40-man roster options
If anyone is going to enter the spring with a leg up on the competition at second base it might be Castro. Down the stretch last season he was playing second base as much as anyone for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and finished the season with a .233/.299/.427 slash line, 102 wRC+ and OPS+ in 278 plate appearances.
After being re-called from the minor leagues on August 10th Castro put together what is the best stretch of his MLB career thus far. In 196 PAs he hit for a .251/.311/.486 slash line with a 121 wRC+ and an isolated slugging (ISO) of .235.
At one point last season it looked like Marcano might be on his way to winning the second base job. Marcano hit for a .262/.318/.410 slash line with a 105 wRC+ in his first 68 plate appearances of the season. Most of these PAs came with him playing second base.
However, right as Marcano appeared to be taking off he landed on the injured list and struggled offensively afterward. After struggling post-IL stint, Marcano finished the season with a .206/.256/.306 slash line, 57 wRC+ and an OPS+ of 58.
One thing to keep in mind with Marcano however is his age. He just turned 23 in mid-September. So, there is reason to believe there is still a lot of growth in him as a player. Especially as a hitter. He was a plus defender at second base posting a +2 DRS and +3 OAA. It’s hard to envision Marcano not cracking the Opening Day roster as at least a utility player, which could lead to him seeing plenty of playing time at second base.
Castillo was one of the stars of spring training for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season as he hit his way onto the Opening Day roster. However, he struggled offensively in the regular season hitting for a .206/.251/.382 slash line, 73 wRC+ and a 76 OPS+. Castillo did flash some power potential though hitting 11 home runs with 13 doubles in just 260 at-bats.
Castillo may have the softest hands of the bunch and could be a plus defender at the position. That said, due to his offensive struggles it’s hard to envision Castillo being an every day player but him making the Opening Day roster as a utility man again would not be a surprise.
Of this trio, Castro is the most likely to begin the season as the starting second baseman. To be honest, as of now it would be a surprise if he’s not the second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day.