Every MLB Team's Potential Roster Cut That Would Surprise You
Within the next week to 10 days or so, there are going to be roster cuts made by MLB teams that will help them get down to the 25-man roster limit in time for Opening Day.
Some of those cuts could be surprising.
It's inevitable that players who were thought to be safe at the beginning of spring training will find themselves either released or sent to Triple-A before the start of the season.
John Lannan found that out last year. After being a regular starter for the Washington Nationals, Lannan found himself on the short end of the stick when he was told that Ross Detwiler would be the team's No. 5 starter. Lannan then spent almost the entire 2012 season in the minors.
Here then is a list of one potential roster cut from each MLB team that could come as a shock.
* Cuts will be defined as a team granting a player his outright release or demoting a player to the minors. In some cases, we'll list players who will be put on the disabled list with the sole purpose of getting them additional rehab time in the minors.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Randall Delgado
When the Arizona Diamondbacks traded outfielder Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves during the offseason, they picked up third baseman Martin Prado. They also acquired promising pitching prospect Randall Delgado.
Delgado, however, could well find himself starting the season at Triple-A Reno.
Delgado has been battling Patrick Corbin for the fifth and final rotation spot this spring. Corbin has the upper hand right now with a 3.68 ERA in five outings. Delgado has posted a 5.25 ERA in his four outings.
It makes more sense to keep Delgado stretched out at the minor league level than to stick him in the Arizona bullpen as a middle-to-long reliever. With the uncertainty that is Brandon McCarthy's shoulder, Delgado could be needed in a pinch.
Atlanta Braves: Christian Bethancourt
Catcher Christian Bethancourt is thought to be the future behind the plate for the Atlanta Braves.
That future will have to wait a while longer, however.
Bethancourt, one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball, will more than likely start the season in the minors. Though Brian McCann won't be ready until at least mid-April, the Braves won't carry three catchers, leaving Bethancourt as the odd man out.
Gerald Laird is the presumed starter until McCann returns, and Evan Gattis has been on fire this spring, hitting .378 with two home runs and 10 RBI.
Bethancourt's time will come—it's just not coming right now.
Baltimore Orioles: Travis Ishikawa
The Baltimore Orioles signed Travis Ishikawa last December to a minor league contract, hoping he could possibly help as a backup first baseman with the departure of Mark Reynolds.
It's a good thing that it was not a guaranteed deal.
Ishikawa, who has had a serviceable career in the majors with the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers, is hitting just .172 this spring with one extra-base hit in 19 games.
With Steve Pearce raking with a .379 average, four home runs and 12 RBI, Ishikawa could be looking for work in the very near future.
Boston Red Sox: Daniel Bard
It's been nice to see Daniel Bard pitching in the mid-to-high 90s again after last year's debacle.
Bard started last season as a starter, suffered through a miserable existence in the rotation, then got sent to the bullpen and eventually to the minors, where he simply couldn't get back in sync. It was a completely lost season.
Now, Bard appears to be over that hump. He did allow three runs to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, jumping his spring ERA to 4.50 ERA in six appearances, but for the most part, Bard has been steady.
Unfortunately for him, the Sox already have an abundance of righties in the bullpen. Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Alfredo Aceves appear to be penciled in. Clayton Mortensen has also been solid with a 3.68 ERA.
Along with Andrew Miller, it's a crowded bullpen, and Bard could be the odd man out simply because a numbers game.
Chicago Cubs: Hisanori Takahashi
The Chicago Cubs signed Hisanori Takahashi to a minor league contract and he is vying for one of the lefty specialist jobs in the bullpen this season.
Takahashi hasn't pitched badly with a 4.09 ERA in five outings, but Chris Rusin could win out in the competition for the final bullpen spot, and for good reason.
Rusin has posted a 2.50 ERA in five outings. While Rusin could be a candidate for the starting rotation, that seems set with Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva.
Rusin could beat out Takahashi for a bullpen spot simply because Takahashi would have to be added to the 40-man roster, which would be tough for the Cubs to do considering all of their other roster issues.
In addition, Rusin has three options left, so when Matt Garza comes back, Rusin could be optioned to the minors and brought back to the majors when necessary.
Takahashi will likely find work elsewhere. He is a lefty, and they always find work.
Chicago White Sox: John Danks
John Danks has worked hard since coming back from surgery to repair a capsule tear in his left shoulder last August.
However, the results this spring have been far from pretty.
Danks is carrying an ugly 16.36 ERA in four outings, giving up 20 earned runs on 27 hits in just 11 innings. Opposing batters are hitting a lofty .459 against Danks, and he has allowed nearly three baserunners per inning.
Danks could very well start the season on the 15-day disabled list while he works to deal with his struggles in the minors.
Cincinnati Reds: Xavier Paul
Xavier Paul was picked up midseason last year by the Cincinnati Reds and he contributed nicely down the stretch. Paul hit .314 in 55 games, mostly as a late inning replacement.
However, Paul is battling with Derrick Robinson for the final outfield spot on the Reds roster this season. Paul hasn't played himself out of a job, hitting .265 with two home runs and six RBI, but Robinson has been excellent, hitting .371 with six RBI.
The Reds might also be more inclined to keep Robinson because he is younger and has much more speed.
Cleveland Indians: Trevor Bauer
In a battle to win the final starting spot in the Cleveland Indians rotation, Trevor Bauer has come across an unexpected competitor.
Non-roster invitee Scott Kazmir hasn't pitched in the majors since April 2011. However, Kazmir has thrown eight scoreless innings, giving up just five hits with eight strikeouts and just one walk. Kazmir's velocity appears to have returned as well.
Bauer could be on his way to Columbus if Kazmir continues holding it together through the end of March.
Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado
On Sunday, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported that the Colorado Rockies were seriously considering giving the starting third base job to prospect Nolan Arenado.
I just don't see that happening.
First, the Rockies have an incumbent third baseman in Chris Nelson. Nelson hasn't exactly lit it up with a .233 spring average and three RBI, but Nelson hit .301 last season for Colorado.
Second, Arenado has never played above the Double-A level and he didn't necessarily dominate at Tulsa last year with a .285 average and 12 home runs.
Arenado has hit well this spring with a .314 average, four home runs and 11 RBI, but would it really hurt to see what he can do in Colorado Springs first before handing him the job at the major league level?
Detroit Tigers: Don Kelly
There is a logjam of players vying for the final outfield spot on the Detroit Tigers. Quintin Berry, Danny Worth, Jeff Kobernus, Matt Tuiasosopo, Avisail Garcia and Don Kelly are all in the running.
Kelly could be the one who is looking for work very shortly.
Kelly has hit .257 with two home runs and four RBI this spring, but he does have an out clause in his contract. With so many bodies to choose from, and with just one or two spots left available, Kelly could see his Tigers career coming to an end.
Houston Astros: Erik Bedard
There are times when cuts are made simply because of other roster considerations. That could be the case for Houston Astros pitcher Erik Bedard.
Bedard is a non-roster invitee, so if he makes the team then the Astros would be forced to create a space for him on the 40-man roster. That would require some jockeying of names by Astros management.
For his part, Bedard has pitched well, not allowing a run in six innings and striking out nine batters. However, if another non-roster invitee—Rick Ankiel—makes the team, then the Astros have some serious maneuvering to do.
Bedard's audition bodes well for his future, and he's likely to get a good look from several teams if he is released. His tenure with the Astros could be short but fruitful in the long run.
Kansas City Royals: Bruce Chen
Is Bruce Chen's time in Kansas City coming to an end, and could he be looking to play for his 11th team?
It's entirely possible.
Chen has been with the Royals for four years, which is the longest time that he has spent with any of his 10 major league clubs during his 14-year career. But Chen is struggling this spring with a 7.90 ERA, after giving up 12 runs in 13.2 innings.
Furthermore, Luis Mendosa has been outstanding, giving up just one run on 10 hits in 11 innings of work.
Chen was already looking at competing for a slot when the Royals added James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana. Now, Chen is just looking to hang on, and he may not be able to survive the final cut.
Los Angeles Angels: Hank Conger
It wasn't a good sign for Hank Conger when the Los Angeles Angels offered catcher Chris Snyder a contract after he was released by the Washington Nationals on Monday.
Conger has hit extremely well, posting a .417 average with two home runs and 11 RBI, but the constant throwing issues have been a major concern for manager Mike Scioscia. As a former catcher, Scioscia demands defensive excellence and values a catcher's skills behind the plate much higher than their hitting ability.
Conger could be back at Triple-A to start the season in order to work on his throwing mechanics.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly's fate has been all but sealed—for the short-term at least.
Lilly was sidelined last season after only eight games after undergoing shoulder surgery that ended his season. This spring, Lilly has lost two starts due to illness and another was delayed because of weather.
While he's valiantly fighting for the fifth and final starting spot in the rotation, time could simply run out on him. Lilly has thrown only 6.2 innings thus far with a 9.45 ERA.
It's likely that Lilly will start the season on the 15-day disabled list as he continues to build up arm strength, and he will then presumably work on a rehab program in the minors.
Miami Marlins: Jacob Turner
Last year, Jacob Turner was impressive for the Miami Marlins following his trade from the Detroit Tigers. Turner posted a respectable 3.38 ERA in seven starts.
This spring, Turner has been anything but impressive.
Following his last outing in which Turner got roughed up against a St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A team, manager Mike Redmond voiced his concerns:
“He’s still got a couple of more outings, so hopefully he can get it going,” Redmond told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. “But he just struggled, mostly command problems. His last outing was much better, but this one, it seemed he scuffled.”
Turner has just 10 days left to turn around Redmond's current way of thinking. He's given up 10 runs on 13 hits and five walks in 8.1 innings thus far.
Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2013/03/16/4438111/rotation-spot-with-miami-marlins.html#storylink=cpy
Milwaukee Brewers: Khris Davis
As great a spring as Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Khris Davis is having, there simply may not be enough room on the 25-man roster for him.
With a team that's already carrying Ryan Bruan, Carlos Gomez, Norchika Aoki and possibly Logan Schafer, Davis may not have done quite enough, even though he's hit .351 with five home runs and 13 RBI this spring.
Davis is also limited to just left field, which could also hurt him, considering that Braun has that position covered for the Brewers for quite a while.
Manager Ron Roenicke might want Davis to get regular playing in Triple-A rather than keeping him in Milwaukee for occasional pinch hitting duty.
Minnesota Twins: Liam Hendriks
While he may have been thought of as a rotation piece during the offseason, Liam Hendriks hasn't exactly established himself as a key contributor this spring.
Cole de Vries has shined, posting a 0.90 ERA in five outings, and while Samuel Deduno has been away at the WBC, the Twins have no doubt taken notice of the latter's stellar performance, especially on Tuesday night against Puerto Rico in the final.
Hendriks has posted a 6.00 ERA in his five appearances thus far. For a team aching for quality, that simply isn't going to pass muster.
New York Mets: Kirk Nieuwenhuis
New York Mets center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis was off to a rocky start this spring, hitting just .056 (1-for-18) before suffering a bone bruise while sliding into second base in early March.
Nieuwenuis has not played since and could be running out of time.
It could be that Nieuwenhuis starts the season on the disabled list to give him time to heal and to get more at-bats at the minor league level at his point.
Considering the state of the Mets outfield, it's not the worst thing that could happen.
New York Yankees: Dan Johnson
With the current state of affairs with the New York Yankees along with their injury concerns, non-roster invitee Dan Johnson had a golden opportunity to make the 25-man roster.
Considering the way his spring has gone thus far, though, that likely won't happen.
Johnson has hit .069 with just two singles to his credit. Even with Mark Teixeira out for at least a month—and possibly longer—Johnson's efforts aren't even close enough to land him that roster spot.
Oakland Athletics: Scott Sizemore
The logjam at second base for the Oakland Athletics is going to claim some victims, and Scott Sizemore could be among them.
Sizemore did not play at all in 2012 while he recovered from a knee injury, and he hasn't bounced back at the plate this spring. Sizemore is hitting just .167.
With Eric Sogard hitting .531, and with Jemile Weeks and Adam Rosales hitting above .400, it would appear that Sizemore is the odd man out.
Philadelphia Phillies: Yuniesky Betancourt
The Philadelphia Phillies have a battle brewing for the utility infield spot between Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen and Yuniesky Betancourt.
Both Frandsen and Galvis have hit fairly well, with Galvis sitting with a .269 average and Frandsen hitting .292. Manager Charlie Manuel has supported both, loving Galvis' defensive abilities and Frandsen's hitting prowess.
Betancourt, however, has absolutely raked with the bat, hitting .450 with nine RBI. Betancourt is not gifted defensively, though. In addition, he has a clause in his contract that allows him to walk away if he's not named to the 25-man roster by this Sunday.
That may not be enough time for the Phillies to make up their minds, and they may be forced to part ways with the veteran Betancourt.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Brandon Inge
After being released by the Detroit Tigers and then not being invited back the the Oakland A's last year, third baseman Brandon Inge is trying to land a utility spot with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He may be looking for utility work somewhere else before too long.
Inge is hitting just .111 this spring with no extra-base hits. In the meantime, Ivan DeJesus is raking with a .400 average.
If I'm the Pirates, I'm saying no to Inge. He struggled to hit above .200 last season, and he's struggling just to get hits now. For a team that craves production, Inge is not the answer.
San Diego Padres: Freddy Garcia
When Freddy Garcia signed with the San Diego Padres as a non-roster invitee, he threw his name into the mix along with several others for the fifth and final rotation spot.
Garcia might be throwing his name around to other teams before the end of March.
After a poor outing against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, during which he gave up six runs, Garcia now has a 9.77 ERA in five outings.
In a crowded field, Garcia needed to shine for the Padres this spring. Instead, the luster is gone, and Garcia appears to be nearing the end.
San Francisco Giants: Ramon Ramirez
The San Francisco Giants had precious few roster spots available heading into spring training, and even fewer in the bullpen.
Ramon Ramirez once had a nice run with the Giants, and he's trying for a second chance.
Unfortunately for him, he may not get it.
In six appearances, Ramirez has given up eight runs on nine hits which has amounted to a 12.00 ERA. With Chad Gaudin offering up a 2.19 ERA and Jean Machi sitting with a 2.57 ERA, Ramirez's chances of landing the last bullpen slot are slim.
Seattle Mariners: Casper Wells
Outfielder Casper Wells is valiantly attempting to keep his job with the Seattle Mariners, but with a glut of outfielders vying for precious few spots, Casper's time in Seattle may be done.
With Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Morse, Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero, Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez all in play, Wells absolutely needed to step it up this spring.
But with just a .200 average, Wells simply hasn't done enough.
St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Adams
The St. Louis Cardinals released backup shortstop Ronny Cedeno on Tuesday. It means that utility man Ty Wigginton now has a decent chance of making the team.
Wigginton is hitting a putrid .103 (4-for-39) thus far. If the Cardinals keep Wigginton, there's a good chance that Matt Adams, who is hitting .304 with three home runs and 12 RBI, ends up back in the minors.
Can someone please explain to me how that makes sense?
Tampa Bay Rays: Mike Fontenot
Mike Fontenot has been an excellent utility man throughout his career, hitting .265 and winning a World Series ring with the San Francisco Giants in 2010.
However, his brief experience in Tampa Bay hasn't been smashing.
Fontenot is hitting just .194 this spring, and it may be enough to send him packing.
Texas Rangers: Justin Grimm
Justin Grimm is desperately trying to hang on to a roster spot for the Texas Rangers.
He pitched two scoreless innings against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, but he's given up 10 runs on 15 hits in 9.1 innings.
Grimm was given an opportunity last year with the Rangers, starting two games and posting a 9.00 ERA in five appearances.
However, he may not get that opportunity again this April.
Toronto Blue Jays: J.A. Happ
J.A. Happ has pitched well this spring, posting a 2.77 ERA in five outings. He's thrown much better than Ricky Romero, who has put up a 7.27 ERA in four outings.
Nonetheless, Happ will not have a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation in 2013.
Happ will sit down with general manager Alex Anthopoulos at some point this week to discuss his options.
Happ could find himself at Triple-A. It's possible he could end up in the bullpen as well, but either way, he's getting screwed.
Washington Nationals: Chad Tracy
One of the utility infielder roles for the Washington Nationals is coming down to a battle between Tyler Moore and Chad Tracy.
Moore is hitting .261 with three home runs and seven RBI, while Tracy is hitting just .200 with one home run and five RBI.
Tracy hit .269 with three homers and 14 RBI for the Nats last year, but it's clear that Moore is a guy that Washington covets for its future.
Tracy is too good not to land somewhere, it just won't be with Washington.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.