Yesterday, I wrote about how the Pittsburgh Pirates have improved their depth at the Major League level this offseason.
Last year’s team saw a lot of depth options trying out as starters. This year, they’ve added legit starters, albeit none of them have more than average starter upside. The stability those starters provide moves the depth players down into their proper roles.
The Pirates aren’t counting on Zach Thompson to be a starting pitcher, and they’re not desperate for first base prospect Malcom Nunez to arrive. A year ago, they were counting on Thompson as one of the five MLB starters, and Mason Martin was the hope at first base.
There are still positions where the Pirates could use an addition. This would allow them to improve their depth in the same way, at other spots.
The outfield seems like the biggest place where this current team could use an upgrade. Right now, their starters would be Bryan Reynolds, Jack Suwinski, and Connor Joe. That’s not a horrible starting group, but it would look better with a third starter putting Suwinski and Joe into a platoon.
Ben Cherington has talked about wanting to add another position player, and looking at this team, the outfield makes the most logical sense.
Another position where it would make sense to add a player would be middle infield. The Pirates will go with Oneil Cruz as their starter at shortstop. My guess is that Rodolfo Castro will be the second baseman to start the season, and he will have competition.
That’s a young duo, although they’ve got upside. The Pirates would benefit from having a veteran middle infielder backing them up, and helping to provide a presence for both young players as they adjust to the majors.
In the outfield, I think the Pirates need a starter above all. For the middle infield, they just need veteran presence, and someone who can at least handle the defense on a day off.
The final place where I think this team would benefit from an addition would be the bullpen. Their middle relief group looks solid, but the Pirates don’t have a late inning guy to pair with David Bednar.
Bringing in such a set-up man would allow for Wil Crowe to move into a lower leverage role in the middle innings. It would also improve the depth by further shifting guys like Duane Underwood Jr. and Robert Stephenson into early middle relief roles.
The biggest impact is that the Pirates look like they’ll be protecting more leads in 2023. They were already starting to overuse Bednar on a 62-win team. They need someone to split the load of high leverage innings.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
**In my column this week, I looked at how the Pirates have improved their depth at the MLB level.
**The Pirates officially signed Jarlin Garcia, and designated Bryse Wilson for assignment.
**Duane Underwood Jr. and Gustavo Armas made their debuts in winter ball. John Dreker has the latest updates.
**Missed yesterday? I looked at how Rich Hill fills out the Pirates rotation.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
It wasn’t long ago that Zach Thompson was one of the five best starting options on the Pirates. Now? He’s maybe tenth on the depth chart. I looked at how the Pirates have improved their depth at the MLB level.
Our latest Roundtable will go up later on Thursday.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.