The Pittsburgh Pirates are starting to resemble a major league team and a way too early look at their potential Opening Day line-up reflects that.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are starting to resemble a truly semi-decent team. They’ve made a few additions this off-season, and based on the free-agent rumors, they’re not done yet. Things will likely change between now and Opening Day 2023, but I want to take a way too early preview at what line-up the team could trot out at the start of the season.
The Pirates will undoubtedly have plenty of potential starters. There are still holes that need to be filled, but this is what I would currently project the Pirates to have at the start of 2023. With that, let’s look at who could potentially be starting behind the dish.
Catcher – Roberto Perez
As of right now, I am projecting the Pittsburgh Pirates to re-sign Roberto Perez. The Pirates signed Perez last off-season to a low-cost one-year deal. Perez opened the year looking pretty decent. He was a solid batter, slashing .233/.333/.367 with a .315 wOBA and 102 wRC+. It was only league-average production, but Perez was brought in for his defense.
In just 159 innings, Perez was worth +3 defensive runs saved and +1.8 framing runs. Perez has always been known for his defense, and the start of 2022 was no different. Perez was on pace for +15 defensive runs saved, and +9.1 framing runs in 800 innings. Perez was arguably on pace for a Gold Glove season.
But Perez suffered a brutal hamstring injury in early May, limiting him to just 69 plate appearances and 21 games played. The Pirates would be taking a risk resigning Perez. This isn’t the first season-altering injury he’s suffered, as he only played 44 games in 2021 because of injuries. Now with the veteran going into his age-34 campaign, how much is left in the tank is unknown.
Roberto Perez would likely only serve as a bridge for Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis. The Pirates could mitigate a Perez injury by moving him to a lesser bench role once Rodriguez reaches the majors. If the Pirates don’t feel Perez is the right fit, they could always explore the free-agent market. Currently, the likes of Austin Hedges, Omar Narvaez, Mike Zunino, and Jorge Alfaro represent a few other solid holdovers.