Shortstop - Jared Triolo
Ke'Bryan Hayes is going to come back, and he's going to take his rightful position at third base. However, rookie Jared Triolo has been good since reaching the big leagues. While not a primary shortstop, Triolo has played a handful of games at the middle infield position throughout his minor league career. He could slide over to shortstop, given the lack of depth and struggles most of the Pirates' middle infielders have gone through recently.
Triolo has just 32 plate appearances in the Major Leagues. But he has collected eight hits in that short amount of time. He's also walked three times, but strikeouts have given him a slight issue. He also has 11 strikeouts on the season, though keep in mind it is a small sample size. He is making good swing decisions, only having a 26.3% chase rate (the league average is 28.4%).
Coming up through the farm system system, Triolo was consistently a highly productive bat who didn't strike out much. He had a strikeout rate below 20% in each of his three minor league seasons, with a wRC+ of 110 or greater (not counting 2023). Triolo started the year out on the injured list and only had 177 plate appearances this minor league season before he was promoted to the Majors.
Triolo did well at Triple-A, slashing .293/.403/.436 with a 116 wRC+. He walked at a high 15.7% rate, though he struck out 27.7% of the time. That's still too small of a sample size to make a definitive claim about his strikeout rate, especially considering his strikeout rate of 18.7% in the 1080 plate appearances prior to 2023.
If Hayes didn't exist, Triolo would easily be the Pirate third baseman. He's an outstanding infield defender who showed off what's probably the best infield glove in the Pirates' system. However, Triolo has seen an increasing amount of time at shortstop over the last two seasons. He is also familiar with second and first base and could even play some outfield if asked to (he played many games in the grass in college and 62.2 innings in center field late last season). However, the left side of the infield is his primary home.
Triolo can give the Pirates a strong defensive duo on the left side. With Gonzales at second base, Santana/Choi at first, and Hayes at third, this could be one of the best defensive middle infields the Pirates have put together in years. It also helps that Triolo has been a very solid hitter, both in the minors and so far in his brief major league time.