Spring training battles to watch for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Sep 12, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Quinn Priester (64) throws
Sep 12, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Quinn Priester (64) throws / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
3 of 4

Right field

Throughout the offseason Ben Cherington expressed an interest in addressing the Pirate outfield. Specifically, he expressed a desire to add help in center field. Well, that did not happen which will likely make Jack Suwinski the team's Opening Day center fielder.

Assuming Suwinski is in center field, that creates a competition in right field. As of now, the three main competitors for the job in right field appear to be Andrew McCutchen, Edward Olivares, and Billy McKinney.

Last season, the Pirates wanted McCutchen to play in the field more than he did. However, an elbow issue relegated him to mostly designated hitter duties. While they would likely prefer to use Cutch in right field this year, and he will probably play there more than last season, let's assumer he'll once again be the team's primary DH.

On December 14th, the Pirates acquired McKinney via trade from the New York Yankees. One day later, the team acquired Olivares via trade from the Kansas City Royals. Now, the two may find themselves platooning in right field.

McKinney made some changes to his approach at the plate last season that led to improved offensive success. Olivares will bring intriguing power to the Pirate outfield situation, especially against left-handed pitching.

Derek Shelton has often times seemed to prefer to ease young hitters into larger roles as part of a platoon situation. That combined with the improvements McKinney made last season and him being the better defender of the two could lead to a McKinney/Olivares platoon in right field.

Connor Joe could also compete for playing time in right field, but will most likely be used as a platoon partner with Rowdy Tellez at first base. If things go south for him behind the plate, Henry Davis could see playing time in right field once again. However, the Pirates will give him every opportunity and then some to stick behind the dish.

Prediction: Edward Olivares/Billy McKinney platoon