Pittsburgh Pirates: Nick Gonzales, 2024, and the Opening Day Roster

"Is it more beneficial for the Pittsburgh Pirates to include Nick Gonzales on their opening day roster, or would trading him for more developed talent be a wiser choice?
Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Angels
Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Angels / Michael Owens/GettyImages

Nick Gonzales has the showing of becoming the Pirates’ next big slugger, but after a disappointing 2022 minor league campaign, much hope was lost for him. But in 2023, he returned to form. While not as dominant as before, he could still emerge as an All-Star caliber player.

Gonzales deserves a spot on the opening day roster, but the problem is the Pirates, who have lost many middle infielders, still have a depth issue, especially at the shortstop position.

The Pirates have current shortstops like Oneil Cruz, Liover Peguero, and Alika Williams, with second basemen Ji-Hwan Bae and Jared Triolo, as well as upcoming minor league players Tsung-Che Cheng and Termarr Johnson.

Gonzales was drafted 7th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, which is known for having quite a few draft busts going high. However, Gonzales still has the potential that just needs to be shown.

In 2023, Gonzales played in 99 Triple-A games, hitting 14 home runs while knocking in 49 RBIs with a batting average of .281. However, when he finally made it to the majors, he didn’t perform as expected, but it was still a small sample size.

While he does strike out quite often, he is also able to hit at a high clip with impressive speed, should he be allowed to steal bases. He is an above-average defender who can become the Pirates’ next version of Kevin Newman or Adam Frazier with their ability to reach base and help lower pitcher ERA. Unlike both of them, he possesses the power to hit double-digit home runs per season.

Many suggest he could be traded this offseason, but with his future currently unknown, many teams could try to develop his raw talent, which the Pirates have failed to do thus far. It would be a shame to see him go, but the position he plays is currently stacked. While he does deserve a shot, winning games is more important than developing talent as raw as he still is.

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