What are the Pirates' most pressing needs?

November 24th, 2022

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Needless to say, the 40-man roster has undergone a pretty notable metamorphosis since the calendar flipped to November, headlined by the acquisition of Ji-Man Choi and the trade of Kevin Newman. With several moves completed, what are the Pirates’ most pressing needs as of right now?

First and foremost, the team needs a catcher. With Tyler Heineman designated for assignment, Pittsburgh currently has two catchers on the 40-man roster: Ali Sánchez and Endy Rodriguez. Rodriguez, the Pirates’ No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, likely won’t be on the Opening Day roster. Sánchez, 25, has seven Major League games under his belt and projects as a backup.

In an ideal world, the Pirates would sign a veteran who could help serve as the bridge to Rodriguez and the club’s No. 1 prospect, Henry Davis. That shouldn’t be an issue given the plethora of free agents who fit that billing, a list that includes Roberto Pérez, Austin Hedges, Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali and Jason Castro, among others.

On the pitching side, the Pirates need lefties. After Manny Bañuelos was designated for assignment, Pittsburgh was left without a southpaw on the 40-man roster.

The Pirates don’t have many internal options to fill that need. Currently, they only have one lefty in their entire system with Major League experience: Cam Alldred. Tyler Samaniego, the organization’s Kent Tekulve Reliever of the Year, is an intriguing option, but he has yet to pitch in Triple-A. The Pirates will likely have to look externally for lefties, either by signing or trade.

Pittsburgh’s other needs aren’t as pressing, but there are areas where it can add. The Pirates could use another primary first baseman, ideally a right-handed hitter who can complement Choi in a platoon role. On Tuesday, Pittsburgh claimed first baseman Lewin Díaz off waivers from the Marlins, a slick fielder worth 16 defensive runs saved and nine outs above average in 99 career Major League games. Another veteran starting pitcher wouldn’t hurt, either, and the Pirates could also use more relievers who generate swings and misses.