After a flurry of moves today, the 25-man roster heading north with the parent club has become as clear as it's been all spring. Justin James and Mike McClendon were optioned to the minor leagues and once GM Doug Melvin traded minor leaguer Cutter Dykstra for OF Nyjer Morgan, Brandon Boggs was placed on waivers.
When those moves were completed, there were 27 players officially left in Major League camp though two of them (Jonathan Lucroy and Corey Hart) are expected to be officially placed on the DL shortly.
As for the current 25-man roster, it'll break down like this:
Four Starting Pitchers
- Yovani Gallardo
- Shaun Marcum
- Randy Wolf
- Chris Narveson
Eight Relief Pitchers
- John Axford
- Takashi Saito
- Kameron Loe
- Sean Green
- Zach Braddock
- Mitch Stetter
- Sergio Mitre
- Brandon Kintzler
- George Kottaras
- Wil Nieves
- 1B - Prince Fielder
- 2B - Rickie Weeks
- SS - Yuniesky Betancourt
- 3B - Casey McGehee
- Bench - Craig Counsell
- Bench - Erick Almonte
Who should be the Brewers' 5th Starter on April 6th?
- LF - Ryan Braun
- CF - Carlos Gomez
- RF - Mark Kotsay
- Bench - Jeremy Reed
- Bench - Nyjer Morgan
Now, obviously things will change throughout April quite a bit. Five expected roster members will be starting the season on the 15-day disabled list. These are pitchers Zack Greinke, Manny Parra and LaTroy Hawkins, catcher Jonathan Lucroy and right-fielder Corey Hart.
All of the DL placements will be retroactive to March 22 (the earliest date allowed by league rule) which means that the men on it to start the year will be eligible to come back to the active roster as of April 6. Not everyone will be ready by then, but two or more might be.
When Lucroy returns, one of the other catchers will be removed from the roster. Kottaras and Nieves are both out of options and, in reality, Lucroy's injury is simply delaying the inevitable for one of them.
With Martin Maldonado and Mike Rivera set to share the catching duties at Triple-A Nashville, one has to wonder whether the person Lucroy pushes out will even choose to remain with the organization should he clear waivers.
Hart's situation is much the same though it seems much more clear who loses their job when he returns.
Spring training non-roster invitee Jeremy Reed made the club based on his performance over these past few weeks, but with the Brewers having recently traded for the younger, more talented, team-controlled (contract-wise) Nyjer Morgan, it appears fairly obvious that, barring injury, Reed will be the odd man out when Hart is deemed ready to go.
As for the pitchers, it's a bit more muddled. The team is only taking four starters north because they don't need a fifth one until April 6.
That being said, unless they choose to have recently acquired swingman Sergio Mitre make that first spot start, someone will have to be sent out to make room for the fifth starter.
If someone is sent out, it'll likely be Brandon Kintzler because not only does he have options remaining but they aren't going to keep eight relief pitchers all year anyway.
If they choose to go with Mitre on April 6, Kintzler will survive a while longer. A fifth starter isn't need again after that until April 16.
So if we go down the diverging paths another step, we get to the two relief pitchers, Hawkins and Parra. If Mitre makes the spot start, Kintzler will be optioned down as soon as Hawkins is ready to come back.
When Parra is deemed healthy he'll replace one of the other left-handed pitchers in the bullpen, either Braddock or Stetter. Who is sent down to Nashville due to his return will probably rely a great deal on performance over these first couple of weeks.
Of course, the elephant in the room is the eventual return of Zack Greinke. When he is ready to contribute the bullpen shrinks back to seven members. No ifs, ands or buts about that.
If he's somehow the first pitcher to return, Kintzler again goes. If he's second behind Parra, it could be Mitre who goes because they'd have their long-man back. If Hawkins is on the roster too, it could be an interesting decision to say the least.
But, for now, the 25-man roster is very clear...for at least a week or so, anyway.