The Pittsburgh Pirates made a number of interesting moves during the offseason. However, much of their offseason was dominated by Bryan Reynolds storylines. Reynolds, a star outfielder, requested a trade but nothing has come to fruition. Nevertheless, there is still reason for excitement in Pittsburgh heading into the 2023 campaign. Without further ado, here are three bold Pirates predictions for the 2023 MLB season.
*Stats via Baseball Reference.
Oneil Cruz, Ke'Bryan Hayes both make NL All-Star team
Oneil Cruz and Ke'Bryan Hayes are two of the most exciting young players in baseball. Hayes has been a breakout candidate for a number of years, but has dealt with injuries. Meanwhile, Cruz burst onto the scene in 2022 and made a name for himself. Although, there are still holes in both their games.
Cruz, a 6'7 shortstop, hit just .233 with a .744 OPS and 17 home runs last year. He played in 87 games and certainly flashed signs of star-studded potential. With a healthy spring and continued development, Cruz is a 2023 All-Star candidate.
Hayes reportedly put on 10-15 pounds of muscle after dealing with injuries over the past few years. He was able to play in over 130 games last year but didn't offer much production. The Pirates are hopeful he can turn things around in 2023.
Hayes dealt with a lower back issue throughout 2022 and addressed adding muscle to prevent a similar problem this season, per pittsburghbaseballnow.com's John Perrotto.
“It was figuring out what I needed to do for my back, getting a team (of trainers) around me to help me address some problems and ultimately got to feeling better and figuring out what I needed to do in the weight room to not aggravate it and stuff like that,” Hayes said.
Hayes and Cruz will be players to watch in 2023.
Pirates don't trade Bryan Reynolds
As mentioned earlier, Bryan Reynolds previously requested a trade. However, he could change his mind if Pittsburgh demonstrates winning potential.
The Pirates likely won't make the playoffs in 2023. But they have young players breaking onto the scene and could contend sooner rather than later. Reynolds' name is destined to pop up in rumors ahead of the trade deadline. And many people around the MLB world will expect him to be traded.
The Pirates may look to extend Reynolds this spring. If that happens, he obviously wouldn't be traded. It will be a situation to monitor prior to Opening Day.
Andrew McCutchen hits home run in final at-bat, retires after season
Andrew McCutchen, who won an MVP during his initial tenure with the Pirates, re-signed with the ball club during the offseason. The former All-Star made it clear that he still wants to compete at a high level. He will turn 37-years old at the end of the season so his post-2023 future isn't certain by any means.
But it wouldn't be shocking to see McCutchen call it a career after the season. Retiring as a Pirate would make sense for the former superstar. And McCutchen, who never backs down from the big moment, will homer in his final at-bat if he does indeed decide to hang up his cleats following the year.
In the end, the Pirates aren't expected to make any kind of playoff run. But with Andrew McCutchen back in the fold, a superstar in Bryan Reynolds patrolling center field, and young talent in Ke'Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz on the roster, there are reasons to for Pittsburgh fans to be excited this season.