Infield - Ke'Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, Rodolfo Castro, Ji-Man Choi, Carlos Santana, Ji-Hwan Bae, Chris Owings
While the main pieces remain the same, this is another group that has seen a change to the projected Opening Day roster.
Throughout the offseason, we talked about the Pittsburgh Pirates' need to add a backup middle infielder, specifically one that was a right-handed hitter and a good defender at shortstop. Well, that happened earlier this month when veteran Chris Owings signed with the team on a minor league deal.
Owings can play third base, shortstop, and second base, as well as being capable in the outfield. This positional flexibility should help him find his way onto the team's Opening Day roster. Being a right-handed hitter should also help his cause. Owings can back Oneil Cruz up defensively, while also protecting Cruz against tough left-handed pitchers and helping to prevent Cruz from getting into elongated slumps agaisnt lefties.
Otherwise, the infield projection remains the. Ke'Bryan Hayes is locked in at third base, just as Cruz is at shortstop. While there is a battle at second base, Rodolfo Castro will most likely win that job. Ji-Man Choi and Carlos Santana will both be on the Opening Day roster, splitting time at first base while both will likely see their fair share of at-bats as the team's designated hitter.
Ji-Hwan Bae is lumped in with this group as well. Bae could see plenty of playing time in the outfield as well, potentially even becoming a starting outfielder, but with him battling Castro for the second base job we'll put him with the infielders for this projection. More than likley, Bae will bounce around the field in a utility role as Derek Shelton looks to get his bat and speed in the lineup as often as possible.