Outfield/Designated Hitter - Bryan Reynolds, Jack Suwinski, Edward Olivares, Billy McKinney, Andrew McCutchen
Left field is set in stone. Bryan Reynolds, the owner of the largest contract in franchise history, will hold down the position for the Pirates. Recently ranked as the fourth best left fielder in baseball by MLB Network, the Pirates need Reynolds to bounce back from what was a down season for his standards in 2023.
Entering the offseason the Pirates needed to add a center fielder. Well, that has not happened. As a result, Jack Suwinski will man the position daily. Suwinski would have been a big part of the outfield regardless, but he is best served platooning in right field. Suwinski struggles mightily against left-handed pitching, is a poor defensive center fielder, and strikes out too much. Getting him a platoon partner and sliding him to right field is what's best for him and would improve the team. But, alas, here we are.
With Suwinski needing to hold down center field, right field projections change. Offseason trade acquisitions Edward Olivares and Billy McKinney could very possibly platoon in right field to start the season.
During his time with the Kansas City Royals, Olivares has flashed offensvie potential but has struggled mightily defensively. Using him as a platoon player to start the season jives with what Derek Shelton has always liked to do with young hitters. Right now, we are projecting Olivares to be in right field against left-handed pitchers.
As for McKinney, he is coming off arguably the best season of his career. He made some changes with his stance and approach at the plate last season that appeared to pay off. Also, unlike Olivares, he is a strong defensive right fielder. So, even when Olivares starts he could be a late inning defensive replacement.
We will also include Andrew McCutchen with this group. It appears to be a safe bet that the Pirates will open the season with Cutch as their primary DH. That said, they wanted him to play more right field last season but injury issues derailed those plans.
Could McCutchen see more time in right field this season? It's certainly possible. If Olivares struggles then Cutch could start in right field instead against left-handed pitching. There is also a scenario where Rowdy Tellez has a bounce back season, Connor Joe repeats/improves upon his 2023, and Olivares scuffles, leading to Cutch in right field, Tellez at DH, and Joe at first base on a regular basis.