Pittsburgh Pirates 2023 Opening Day Roster Prediction Version 3.0

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates
Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
3 of 6

Infielders - Ke'Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, Rodolfo Castro, Carlos Santana, Ji-Man Choi, Tucupita Marcano

At least half of the team's infield for the 2023 season is set in stone. Ke'Bryan Hayes will be at third base and Oneil Cruz will be at shortstop. While the Pirates will want to see Hayes take a big step forward offensively, he is arguably the best defensive player in baseball regardless of position. Cruz will look to build off his strong close to the 2022 season at the plate while cleaning up some things defensively.

Rodolfo Castro continues to be the most likely second baseman on Opening Day. Like Cruz, Castro finished the 2022 season strong. After being recalled from the minors on August 9th, he hit for a .247/.310/.478 slash line to go with a 119 wRC+ and 19 extra base hits in his final 200 plate appearances of the season. Castro has earned the right to be given an extended look at second base.

First base and designated hitter will likely overlap a good bit. Ji-Man Choi and Carlos Santana could platoon at first base, but there is also likely a good chance that Santana is at first base on a near daily basis while Choi platoons with a right-handed hitter at desiganted hitter.

The biggest quesiton mark here is the backup middle infielder. If the season started tomorrow, that role would likely go to Tucupita Marcano. Especially if Ji-Hwan Bae, who will get to shortly, starts in the outfield, which is something the Pirates have hinted at.

Cherington has mentioned a desire to add another veteran middle infielder before Opening Day. If I were a betting man, I would still put money on this happening. If/when this happens, that addition would take Marcano's spot on the roster.