Infielders - Ke'Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, Liover Peguero, Connor Joe, Rowdy Tellez
Despite missing essentially the entire month of July, Ke'Bryan Hayes had a career year in 2023. The best defensive third baseman, and maybe the best defensive player in all of baseball, hit for a .271/.309/.453 slash line with a 101 wRC+ and 105 OPS+. All of these were career bests for Hayes if you exclude his one month season in 2020. His 4.0 WAR was also a career best as he wont his frist of likely many career Gold Glove Awards.
Getting Oneil Cruz back will be a massive boost for the Pirates. He was limited to just 40 plate appearances in 9 games last season before a catastrophic ankle injury stopped his season dead in its tracks. Getting that big breakout season from Cruz would go a long, long way for a roster that currently appears to be on its way to 85+ losses once again.
Second base is certainly a question mark entering the spring, but Liover Peguero has shown the most in the majors of the internal options. He likely has the highest ceiling at the position as well, and was the centerpiece of the Starling Marte trade back in February 2020. Trying to salvage that poor trade and prove he was "right" is something Cherington will be drive by. Right now, lena Peguero to open the season at second base. Although, like last season, you could see mutliple players at second base throughout the season.
Even though he can also play the outfield, Connor Joe is getting lumped in with the infielder. This is because the most likely outcome at first base is for Joe to platoon with free agent addition Rowdy Tellez at the position. To be honest, even against right-handed pitching Joe is likely a better option than Tellez.