Pirates Inch Closer to Opening Day Roster

Kevin Gorman reported some Pittsburgh Pirates roster news earlier today, which has recently come with an update.

Multiple sources are reporting that infielder Chris Owings won’t be making the Major League roster for Opening Day, but he has decided not to opt out of his minor league deal. It’s being reported that he will accept his minor league assignment to Indianapolis, remaining in the Pirates system. Owings has hit .250/.417/.429 this spring in 36 plate appearances.

Pitcher Tyler Chatwood also has the same decision to make today, while catcher Tyler Heineman has the ability to opt out of his deal by Monday, but only if it is for a Major League job.

If you subtract Owings from the spring roster, there are still 37 active players competing for a spot.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Off topic, but why isn’t Mitch Keller getting more attention. His K/BB ratio this spring is 20/1 over 16 innings. That’s crazy good people. He has a .96 whip because of it and Eno Sarris if the Athletic (guy who invented Stuff+) is touting him as a breakout fantasy stud. Where is the excitement! If Keller can become an actual 1 or 2 that would be enourmous.


Because spring stats don’t mean that much? I think Keller turned a corner last season and is a good pitcher, likely the best they have. But a 1/2? Not from what we’ve seen so far.


And of course not “what we’ve seen so far”. You can just ignore the point I’m making or read this: https://theathletic.com/4317119/2023/03/17/sarris-spring-training-stuff-surgers/

And comment on Stuff+


I read it and I’m excited for him too. But you cited spring training stats to enhance your point and they don’t mean a damn thing.
As for your point below, Keller does rate the highest among Bucs pitchers, per Eno’s article yesterday. He’s 76th overall. That’s not a 1/2 and is more of a 3. Which is good! I’m not saying he’s bad, I’m not ready to get carried away thinking there’s an ace in there.

Last edited 2 months ago by ArkyWags

Stuff+ isn’t stats based it’s pitch shape and other factors. Look it up. Keller rates highly and it has been highly predictive of success.


This is very encouraging.

Wilbur Miller

Every time Perdomo looks like toast, he comes back and shows the upside.

Scam likely

Jorge Alfaro could be option from the red Sox, he has a upward mobility clause . He can hit a little for a catcher.


You were right. I would be psyched if we signed him.


That would be a huge catch in my opinion for the Pirates, but my guess is the Red Sox are going make a roster spot for him.


If Owings is not an option, does that mean Bae is???


Maggi is going into his age 34 season and Owings his age 32 season; I don’t think either was a serious consideration for making the MLB roster or playing at AAA. The twosome of Rodolfo Castro and Ji-Hwan Bae at 2B and UT are the smartest pairing to take North.

Last night Castro played 2B opposite Oneil Cruz at SS, and Bae played CF, while Bryan Reynolds was the DH. The Pirates have done an excellent job of keeping Reynolds legs fresh and not wasting a lot of his energy on Spring games.


If Owing is out, then I would be shocked if Bae was not on the team.


I think from Cherington’s comments in the last day, specifically about wanting speed, Bae has a good chance. It would also make the Swaggerty move more understandable if Bae is making the team with the expectation that he’ll split time between 2B and CF.

not avail

Inch? More like limp from a series of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.


For example?

not avail

Swag seems like the most obvious. Vince Velasquez as a starter isn’t a serious attempt at competing this season, either.


In a vacuum, I can definitely support not carrying Owings. That said, they’re going to be pretty poor defensively up the middle, with no credible SS or CF.

Seems to me this is shaping up to be Hedges, Heineman, Choi, Santana, Castro, Cruz, Hayes, Reynolds, Suwinski, Cutch, Joe, and the last 2 spots go to two of: CSN, Bae, Mathias.

Rotation looks to be set, plus Bednar, Crowe, Underwood, Holderman, Hernandez and De Jong. Last 2 spots among Oviedo, Moreta, de los Santos and I think Zastryzny has a real shot as a primary LHP.

I’d probably hold Oviedo back and keep him stretched out and run with YDLS and Zastryzny. DFA Yohan Ramirez to make room for Z and (finally) DFA Vilade to make room for Heineman.

Wilbur Miller

Not sure where the idea of Owings as a glove wizard came from. For his career:

SS: -19 OAA
2B: -4
3B: 2
OF: -2
Don’t see anything he provides defensively that they can’t get from Bae, Castro or Marcano.


Owings was an odd choice in that sure, he can stand at multiple infield positions, but he’s below average at all of them.

And yet, he’s still miles ahead of Cruz, and probably a shade better than Castro (though Castro has nowhere near enough innings to buy in on the metrics, he does grade out below average in far fewer innings than Owings has logged).

The point remains, in sending down Swaggerty and moving forward with Cruz and Castro with either Bae or Mathias backing up, they’re not doing the pitchers any favors.


You’re not factoring in Cruz/Castro’s ability to improve defensively as they age, or how much a competent 1B glove will help reduce the number of throwing errors from them.


we’ll certainly see.


Obviously a 100 loss team needs improvement in all areas, but their biggest deficiency is in scoring runs. It’s the right decision in my book to sacrifice defense in MI & CF in an attempt to score more runs. Won’t threaten playoffs unless they put up about 100 more runs/season than last year. Maybe more with new rules.


In response to your first statement regarding Owings, I assume that’s a big part of the reason he chose not to opt out. He probably sees a very real path to the big league roster since the Bucs appear to not have a real backup SS on the roster.


In 2022 Castro played 29 games at Shortstop in AAA with a fielding percentage of .973. He played SS for 19 games in MLB with a fielding percentage of .934. In 2022 Owings played 8 games at SS in MLB with a fielding percentage of .931.

Bae played 24 games at SS in AAA with a fielding percentage of .976.

Castro and Bae are primary second basemen with excellent defensive capabilities, and both play SS as a secondary position. With more consistent work and experience at the SS position they could both improve accordingly.


Fielding percentage doesn’t cut much as to whether a guy can play a position. And while Castro and Bae have scouting reports that are ok, I’m not sure either look like excellent defenders.


He is not a real SS either. Seriously. Look at his defensive stats.

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