Pittsburgh Pirates: What to Do With Oneil Cruz in 2024, Possible Roster Construction

When he returns next season, should Oneil Cruz continue to play shortstop?

Sep 8, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz (15) in the dugout
Sep 8, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz (15) in the dugout / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Here's a breakdown of how the Pirates could address these challenges:

Catcher & First Base: Splitting time between catcher and first base could be an option, with Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis sharing the catcher role. On off-days behind the plate, Endy could play first base, and Malcom Nuñez or Alfonso Rivas could cover first. Henry Davis might also play right field when not catching.

Second & Shortstop: To accommodate the influx of talented middle infielders, Oneil Cruz may need to transition to the outfield. Ji-Hwan Bae, who could platoon between second base and outfield. Tucupita Marcano, Liover Peguero, Alika Williams, Vinny Capra, and Nick Gonzales could all contribute to the middle infield, but the primary starters might be Termarr Johnson and Tsung-Che Cheng.

Third Base: The third base position is firmly held by Ke'Bryan Hayes, with Jared Triolo as a solid backup option. Triolo can also play second base and possibly shortstop.

Outfield: Oneil Cruz could potentially move to the outfield, joining players like Jack Suwinski and Bryan Reynolds. Other players who can play outfield include Henry Davis, Joshua Palacios, Connor Joe, and Ji-Hwan Bae on occasion. Matt Gorski, known for his slugging abilities, is a promising outfield prospect who may be ready for a call-up. Additionally, prospects like Lonnie White Jr and Shalin Polanco, though not yet prepared, are on the horizon.

In summary, these challenges indicate that Oneil Cruz may need to transition to the outfield to accommodate other players in the infield. While Andrew McCutchen would have to take on limited playtime, sign with another team or retire.

With an abundance of players in the organization, some may eventually be cut or traded. The Pirates' management must make thoughtful decisions to avoid stalling player development, as seen with past prospects like Alen Hanson and Kyle McPherson, who spent too much time in the minors, potentially hindering their careers.

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