With Oneil Cruz set to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2024, should the Bucs leave him at shortstop? And other potential roster construction ideas.
As the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to build towards a postseason-worthy team, they are encountering several challenges and dilemmas. These challenges encompass various positions and players within the organization.
First Base: The first base position remains uncertain, with contenders like Malcom Nuñez and Alfonso Rivas in the mix, with Connor Joe as another possible option.
Second base and shortstop: The Pirates face a severe problem in the middle infield. Emerging MLB prospects like Termarr Johnson and Tsung-Che Cheng are showcasing their talents in the minors, creating competition for current players like Liover Peguero and Ji-Hwan Bae. In addition, there are players with less-established roles, such as Tucupita Marcano, Nick Gonzales, Alika Williams, and Vinny Capra. The presence of Shortstop Oneil Cruz at shortstop further complicates this situation.
Outfield: Finding a spot for Oneil Cruz in the outfield may pose challenges, especially if he encounters defensive struggles. The Pirates already have numerous outfield options, including prospects like Lonne White Jr, Matt Gorski, and Shalin Polanco. They also have established players like Bryan Reynolds, Jack Suwinski, and Henry Davis along with Joshua Palacios.
Catcher: The catcher position belongs to Endy Rodriguez, but the Pirates may need to consider Henry Davis as the backup while giving him opportunities as a designated hitter (DH). The possibility of Oneil Cruz becoming a DH could depend on the manager's decisions.
DH: While most of the roster is manageable with no set DH and multiple players able to fill it, keeping Andrew McCutchen past the 2024 season would make the roster and lineup hard to work around as young players will have to be traded, cut, or held down, possibly ruining their careers. If they keep McCutchen past the 2024 season, he would rarely play in this scenario, and if anything, should become a Bench Coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates. While I love McCutchen, these scenarios value prospects over him.