Steven Senne/Associated Press
Moises Sierra should be the favorite to be become the team's fourth outfielder out of spring training.
Watching highly touted prospects and other minor league players competing against each other in order to make the team is usually the highlight of every spring training.
But there aren’t as many open roster spots on the team this spring as there have been in the past.
The team’s starting lineup is set with Ryan Goins being the only player who's not a complete lock.
It’s a different story when it comes to the rotation, though. With the departure of Josh Johnson, the No. 5 spot on the rotation has opened up and quite a few players will be competing for it in spring training.
Drew Hutchison, Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, Kyle Drabek, Chad Jenkins and highly touted prospect Marcus Stroman appear to be the early candidates for the job.
Dustin McGowan and Jeremy Jeffress, who were both in the bullpen last season, will also be stretched out as starters in spring training and may be in the mix for a rotation role as well.
Further complicating matters is that Rogers, Redmond, McGowan and Jeffress are all out of options and could be claimed by another team if they fail to make the final roster.
It’s likely that the candidates who fail to make the rotation could be given consideration to join the bullpen, especially if they’re out of options and the team wants to keep them in the organization.
Finally, the team is also looking for players to add to the bench and replace the departed Mark DeRosa and Rajai Davis.
While Josh Thole should have an inside track for the backup catcher role, Eric Kratz will also compete for the job. Top catching prospect A.J. Jimenez should also be at camp, but the team will likely make him start the season in the minors and get a little more seasoning.
Moises Sierra should have a leg up for the outfield bench spot. The 23-year-old hit .290/.369/.458 in 35 games played last season. Anthony Gose could also have a shot at a bench role.
The good news is that even though there aren’t a lot of roster spots open during spring training and a surplus of pitchers, having depth in the minors will be very helpful for the team as the season progresses and the inevitable wave of injuries comes.