Pittsburgh Pirates: Final 2023 Opening Day Roster Projection

Mar 2, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Canaan Smith-Njigba (28)
Mar 2, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Canaan Smith-Njigba (28) / Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
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Infield/designated hitter - Ke'Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, Rodolfo Castro, Carlos Santana, Ji-Man Choi

This is a group that has remained very consistent throughout the spring.

The left side of the infield is locked down. Ke'Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz are the guys there, and the Pirates hope they are the guys there for a very, very long time. If all goes according to plan they will both likely start at least140+ games this season.

If Hayes can carry the offensive improvement he showed this spring into the regular season, then when you combine this with his elite defense he could be a 5+ WAR player. There is also reason for optimism that this will happen as Hayes has been getting more loft in his swing and he looks bulkier, in a good way, as well as looking stronger.

As for Cruz, if he can limit the errors at shortstop the rest will take care of itself. His freak athleticism, incredible range, and elite arm strength will allow him to make plenty of plays most shortstops can not make. If he takes what he did in his final 230 plate appearances last season and replicates that for the entire 2023 season, then you're looking at a 30+ home run hitter.

No one seized the job at second base in the spring. Due to this, you may see some second base by committee and playing of the hot hand to start the season. But, on Thursday, look for Rodolfo Castro to be there due to what he showed in the final two months last season.

Carlos Santana and Ji-Man Choi could split the duties between first base and designated hitter a lot of days. Against left-handed pitching, however, look for Choi to be on the bench due to his woeful career numbers against southpaws.