Predicting Final Opening Day 25-Man Rosters for All 30 MLB Teams

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2015

Predicting Final Opening Day 25-Man Rosters for All 30 MLB Teams

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    With Super Bowl Sunday now in the rearview and the NFL season officially over, sports fans will soon be turning their attention to sunny Arizona and Florida and the start of MLB spring training.

    We are all still waiting to see where James Shields will be pitching in 2015, but for the most part, teams have a good idea of the field of players that will be competing for roster spots this spring.

    So too do we analysts, and with that being said, it's never too early to take a crack at predicting how all 30 MLB teams' Opening Day rosters will shake out.

    Obviously, the inevitable injuries, surprise performances and whatever signings and trades that take place this spring will shake things up between now and the beginning of the regular season.

    Truth be told, it will be a surprise if more than a handful of these predictions turn out to be accurate, but what they do provide is an overview of how each team looks heading into the preseason.

    Included with the 25-man roster predictions is a look at each team's top roster battle to watch this spring.

    Note: Players listed in italics are not currently on the 40-man roster and are in camp trying to make the team as non-roster invitees. Players with an (R) following their name have their rookie status intact entering the season, according to Baseball-Reference.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Tuffy GosewischRHP Josh Collmenter
    1B Paul GoldschmidtRHP Jeremy Hellickson
    2B Aaron HillLHP Vidal Nuno
    3B Yasmany Tomas (R)RHP Chase Anderson
    SS Chris OwingsRHP Allen Webster
    LF Mark TrumboBullpen
    CF A.J. PollockRHP Randall Delgado
    RF David PeraltaRHP Rubby De La Rosa
    BenchLHP Matt Reynolds
    C Oscar Hernandez (R)RHP Evan Marshall
    IF Cliff PenningtonLHP Oliver Perez
    IF Nick PuntoRHP Brad Ziegler
    OF Ender InciarteRHP Addison Reed
    OF Cody Ross 

    DL: SP Patrick Corbin (TJ recovery), SP Bronson Arroyo (TJ recovery), RP David Hernandez (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Starting Rotation

    Josh Collmenter and Jeremy Hellickson look like the only sure things in the starting rotation at this point, with a number of guys battling it out for the final three spots.

    Vidal Nuno, Chase Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Randall Delgado and prospects Archie Bradley, Robbie Ray and Andrew Chafin will all be in the running.

    Webster will get every chance to win a job as the key piece of the Wade Miley trade, and he still has some solid upside. Nuno gives the rotation a lefty, while Anderson showed enough as a rookie (21 GS, 9-7, 4.01 ERA) to deserve the final spot.

    Delgado and De La Rosa are both out of options, so they will likely wind up in the bullpen if they fail to win a rotation spot.

Atlanta Braves

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    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Christian Bethancourt (R)RHP Julio Teheran
    1B Freddie FreemanLHP Alex Wood
    2B Alberto CallaspoRHP Shelby Miller
    3B Chris JohnsonLHP Mike Minor
    SS Andrelton SimmonsLHP Eric Stults
    LF Jonny GomesBullpen
    CF B.J. UptonLHP Luis Avilan
    RF Nick MarkakisRHP Arodys Vizcaino
    BenchLHP Josh Outman
    C A.J. PierzynskiRHP Jim Johnson
    IF Kelly JohnsonLHP James Russell
    IF Phil GosselinRHP Jason Grilli
    OF Zoilo AlmonteRHP Craig Kimbrel
    OF Eury Perez 

    DL: None

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    No. 5 Starter

    With the recent trade of David Hale, the No. 5 starter job is wide open for the Atlanta Braves heading into camp. 

    Veterans Eric Stults and Wandy Rodriguez will both get long looks as non-roster signings, while newly acquired prospects Mike Foltynewicz and Manny Banuelos could also be in the mix.

    Stults topped 175 innings each of the past two seasons while pitching for the San Diego Padres, and he closed out the 2014 season very well, with a 2.74 ERA in 11 starts over the final two months. That's enough to make him the favorite at this point.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Matt WietersRHP Chris Tillman
    1B Chris DavisLHP Wei-Yin Chen
    2B Jonathan SchoopRHP Bud Norris
    3B Manny MachadoRHP Kevin Gausman
    SS J.J. HardyRHP Miguel Gonzalez
    LF Alejandro De AzaBullpen
    CF Adam JonesRHP Ubaldo Jimenez
    RF Travis SniderRHP Brad Brach
    DH Steve PearceLHP Wesley Wright
    BenchLHP Brian Matusz
    C Caleb JosephRHP Tommy Hunter
    IF/OF Ryan FlahertyRHP Darren O'Day
    OF David LoughLHP Zach Britton
    OF Delmon Young 

    DL: None

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Two Bench Spots

    Utility infielder Ryan Flaherty and pinch hitter Delmon Young are both safe bets to earn roster spots for the Baltimore Orioles, but the final two bench jobs will be a battle heading into camp.

    Provided catcher Matt Wieters is ready to go for Opening Day, Caleb Joseph will likely be his backup, leaving Steve Clevenger on the outside looking in for a roster spot.

    The final bench job will go to an outfielder, as the team would no doubt prefer that the defensively challenged Young never has to put on a glove in 2015.

    David Lough and Jimmy Paredes are both out of options, so there is a good chance it winds up going to one of them. Lough is a very good defensive corner outfielder, while Paredes brings the added value of being able to play some second and third base as well as outfield.

Boston Red Sox

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    Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Christian VazquezRHP Rick Porcello
    1B Mike NapoliLHP Wade Miley
    2B Dustin PedroiaRHP Clay Buchholz
    3B Pablo SandovalRHP Justin Masterson
    SS Xander BogaertsRHP Joe Kelly
    LF Hanley RamirezBullpen
    CF Rusney Castillo (R)RHP Alexi Ogando
    RF Mookie BettsLHP Robbie Ross
    DH David OrtizRHP Anthony Varvaro
    BenchLHP Craig Breslow
    C Ryan HaniganRHP Edward Mujica
    1B/OF Allen CraigRHP Junichi Tazawa
    IF/OF Brock HoltRHP Koji Uehara
    OF Shane Victorino 

    DL: None

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    The Outfield Situation

    Unless either Rusney Castillo or Mookie Betts opens the season in the minors, which seems unlikely, something is going to have to give with the Boston Red Sox outfield situation this spring.

    Those two up-and-coming young players figure to begin the season as the starters, alongside newly signed Hanley Ramirez in left field. That leaves Allen Craig, Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava to battle it out for what appears to be two bench spots.

    Nava is also out of options, and he recently signed a $1.875 million deal to avoid arbitration, but he still looks like the most likely candidate to find himself on the outside looking in.

    The team could opt to go with just 11 pitchers to begin the season, but it's hard to see who gets bumped from that group as well. So between now and spring training, expect someone from that aforementioned trio vying for bench spots to be traded.

Chicago Cubs

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    David Banks/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Miguel MonteroLHP Jon Lester
    1B Anthony RizzoRHP Jake Arrieta
    2B Javier BaezRHP Jason Hammel
    3B Mike OltLHP Travis Wood
    SS Starlin CastroRHP Kyle Hendricks
    LF Chris CoghlanBullpen
    CF Dexter FowlerRHP Jacob Turner
    RF Jorge Soler (R)LHP Tsuyoshi Wada
    BenchRHP Jason Motte
    C David RossLHP Felix Doubront
    IF Tommy La StellaRHP Neil Ramirez
    IF/OF Arismendy AlcantaraRHP Pedro Strop
    OF Chris DenorfiaRHP Hector Rondon
    OF Ryan Sweeney 

    DL: None

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Left-Handed Relievers

    After trading James Russell to the Atlanta Braves last July and non-tendering Wesley Wright this offseason, the Chicago Cubs are left without a proven lefty reliever heading into 2015.

    Felix Doubront is out of options, and unlikely to crack the rotation, so he seems like a good candidate to provide the team with a left-handed options in a long relief role.

    As for a second potential left-hander, 2014 starters Tsuyoshi Wada and Eric Jokisch figure to compete with minor leaguers Zac Rosscup and Joseph Ortiz for what could be the final spot in the bullpen.

    The other option would be to begin the season with Doubront as the only lefty and to give that final bullpen spot to Edwin Jackson, but it still looks like there is a good chance Jackson is traded or simply cut loose between now and Opening Day.

Chicago White Sox

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Tyler FlowersLHP Chris Sale
    1B Jose AbreuRHP Jeff Samardzija
    2B Carlos Sanchez (R)LHP Jose Quintana
    3B Conor GillaspieLHP John Danks
    SS Alexei RamirezRHP Hector Noesi
    LF Melky CabreraBullpen
    CF Adam EatonRHP Maikel Cleto
    RF Avisail GarciaLHP Dan Jennings
    DH Adam LaRocheRHP Javy Guerra
    Bench
    LHP Zach Duke
    C Geovany SotoRHP Jake Petricka
    IF Gordon BeckhamRHP Zach Putnam
    IF/OF Emilio BonifacioRHP David Robertson
    OF J.B. Shuck 

    DL: RP Nate Jones (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    No. 5 Starter

    After a surprising performance last season in which he went 8-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 166 innings of work after spending time with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers to start the year, Hector Noesi will get the first crack at the No. 5 starter spot.

    However, the 28-year-old is far from a sure thing, as a 4.85 FIP suggests he may have pitched over his head a bit last year, and there is some young talent ready to challenge him for that job.

    All eyes will be on Carlos Rodon this spring, as last year's No. 3 overall pick advanced three levels to reach Triple-A after signing and posted a 2.96 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 24.1 innings of work overall. A strong spring could mean a roster spot to begin the year.

    Fellow prospects Francellis Montas and Erik Johnson are also on the 40-man roster and figure to get a good look as well.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Devin MesoracoRHP Johnny Cueto
    1B Joey VottoRHP Homer Bailey
    2B Brandon PhillipsRHP Mike Leake
    3B Todd FrazierLHP Tony Cingrani
    SS Zack CozartRHP Anthony DeSclafani (R)
    LF Marlon ByrdBullpen
    CF Billy HamiltonRHP Dylan Axelrod
    RF Jay BruceRHP Pedro Villarreal
    BenchRHP Jumbo Diaz
    C Brayan PenaRHP J.J. Hoover
    IF/OF Skip SchumakerLHP Manny Parra
    IF/OF Kris NegronRHP Sam LeCure
    OF Brennan BoeschLHP Aroldis Chapman
    OF Donald Lutz 

    DL: RP Sean Marshall (shoulder)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    No. 5 Starter

    Trading a starter or two this offseason was unavoidable for the Cincinnati Reds, with four of their five starters from last year all headed for free agency at the end of the 2015 season. It wound up being Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon who were shipped out, and while lefty Tony Cingrani is essentially a lock to fill one of those vacated rotation spots, the No. 5 starter job is still up for grabs.

    Anthony DeSclafani, the prize of the Latos trade, looks like the front-runner heading into camp. The 24-year-old had a 3.78 ERA, 1.212 WHIP and 97 strikeouts in 102.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year.

    Prospects David Holmberg and Daniel Corcino both saw big league action last year and figure to be in the mix, while newcomers Matt Magill and Keyvius Sampson are also on the 40-man roster and veteran Jason Marquis will be in camp on a non-roster deal.

Cleveland Indians

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    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Yan GomesRHP Corey Kluber
    1B Carlos SantanaRHP Carlos Carrasco
    2B Jason KipnisRHP Danny Salazar
    3B Lonnie ChisenhallRHP Gavin Floyd
    SS Jose RamirezRHP Trevor Bauer
    LF Michael BrantleyBullpen
    CF Michael BournLHP Nick Hagadone
    RF Brandon MossRHP Zach McAllister
    DH Nick SwisherLHP Kyle Crockett
    Bench
    RHP Scott Atchison
    C Roberto PerezLHP Marc Rzepczynski
    IF Mike AvilesRHP Bryan Shaw
    OF David MurphyRHP Cody Allen
    OF Ryan Raburn 

    DL: None

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Two Bullpen Spots

    A pair of former top prospects in Nick Hagadone and Zach McAllister both head into spring training out of minor league options, so they'll be given every chance to lock down the final two spots in the Cleveland Indians bullpen. They are far from the only options for those jobs, though.

    McAllister looked like a solid piece of the future after making 24 starters in 2013 and going 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA, but his ERA ballooned to 5.23 this past season and he was relegated to the bullpen and eventually to the minors.

    Hagadone had much better results last season, posting a 2.70 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 23.1 innings of work over 35 appearances.

    Those two will have to contend with the likes of T.J. House (5-3, 3.35 ERA, 102.0 IP), Josh Tomlin, Charles Brewer, C.C. Lee and an intriguing handful of non-roster invitees, including Scott Downs, Anthony Swarzak, Nick Maronde and Jeff Manship.

Colorado Rockies

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Wilin RosarioLHP Jorge De La Rosa
    1B Justin MorneauRHP Jordan Lyles
    2B DJ LeMahieuLHP Tyler Matzek
    3B Nolan ArenadoRHP Jhoulys Chacin
    SS Troy TulowitzkiRHP David Hale
    LF Carlos GonzalezBullpen
    CF Charlie BlackmonRHP Tommy Kahnle
    RF Corey DickersonRHP Brooks Brown
    BenchLHP Boone Logan
    C Nick HundleyRHP Jairo Diaz (R)
    1B Ben Paulsen (R)RHP Adam Ottavino
    IF Daniel DescalsoLHP Rex Brothers
    OF Brandon BarnesRHP LaTroy Hawkins
    OF Drew Stubbs 

    DL: SP Tyler Chatwood (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Bench Spot

    Offseason additions Nick Hundley and Daniel Descalso figure to join outfielders Brandon Barnes and Drew Stubbs to fill four of the five bench spots for the Colorado Rockies, but the fifth spot is open for the taking.

    Utility man Charlie Culberson spent most of 2014 on the big league roster, but he hit just .195/.253/.290 with 12 extra-base hits in 210 at-bats. He still has minor league options, so he's by no means a lock to make the club.

    Slugging prospects Ben Paulsen and Kyle Parker look like his biggest competition, depending on what kind of player the team is looking for to round out the bench.

    Paulsen, 27, hit .294/.378/.533 with 32 doubles and 20 home runs in Triple-A last season and had a .920 OPS with four doubles and four home runs in 63 at-bats with the big league club down the stretch.

    Parker, the former Clemson quarterback and 2010 first-round pick, hit .289/.336/.450 with 30 doubles and 15 home runs in Triple-A playing mostly right field. He went just 5-for-26 with 14 strikeouts in limited big league action, though.

Detroit Tigers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Alex AvilaLHP David Price
    1B Miguel CabreraRHP Anibal Sanchez
    2B Ian KinslerRHP Justin Verlander
    3B Nick CastellanosRHP Alfredo Simon
    SS Jose IglesiasRHP Shane Greene
    LF Yoenis CespedesBullpen
    CF Anthony GoseRHP Alex Wilson
    RF J.D. MartinezLHP Tom Gorzelanny
    DH Victor MartinezRHP Bruce Rondon
    BenchLHP Blaine Hardy
    C Bryan HoladayRHP Al Albuquerque
    IF Hernan Perez (R)RHP Joakim Soria
    IF/OF Andrew RomineRHP Joe Nathan
    OF Rajai Davis 

    DL: RP Josh Zeid (foot)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Bullpen Spot

    The final bullpen spot really comes down to a question of whether hard-throwing righty Bruce Rondon will be ready to go for the start of the season after missing all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery.

    Rondon, 24, is still viewed as the team's future closer, and he was a key piece of the bullpen in 2013 when he had a 3.45 ERA and 9.4 K/9 in 28.2 innings.

    "The Tigers hope Rondon can get five or six bullpen sessions under his belt before pitchers and catchers report Feb. 19 and are optimistic he will be able to start spring camp at the outset or shortly thereafter," wrote Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

    If he's not ready to go, former All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan could get the nod over the likes of Ian Krol, Luke Putkonen, Chad Smith, Jose Valdez and a few other non-roster guys.

Houston Astros

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Jason CastroLHP Dallas Keuchel
    1B Jon SingletonRHP Scott Feldman
    2B Jose AltuveRHP Collin McHugh
    3B Luis ValbuenaRHP Brett Oberholtzer
    SS Jed LowrieRHP Dan Straily
    LF Evan GattisBullpen
    CF Colby RasmusRHP Samuel Deduno
    RF George SpringerRHP Will Harris
    DH Chris CarterRHP Josh Fields
    BenchLHP Tony Sipp
    C Hank CongerRHP Pat Neshek
    IF Matt DominguezRHP Luke Gregerson
    IF Marwin GonzalezRHP Chad Qualls
    OF Robbie Grossman 

    DL: SP Brad Peacock (hip)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    First Base

    The Houston Astros made it clear they view Jon Singleton as a key piece of the future when they signed him to a five-year, $10 million deal that includes three option years last June, just two days after he made his big league debut.

    Singleton showed plenty of power as a rookie, with 13 doubles and 13 home runs in 310 at-bats, but he also struck out 134 times and hit just .168/.285/.335 in the process.

    That could be reason enough for him to open the season in the minors, and if that does wind up being the case, we would likely see either Evan Gattis or Chris Carter manning first base, with the other seeing the bulk of the DH at-bats.

    That would open up left field for someone like Jake Marisnick, who still profiles as a significant piece of the team's long-term plans but was blocked by the signing of Colby Rasmus.

    It all depends on how Singleton performs this spring, as the Astros would no doubt love nothing more than for the 23-year-old to seize the job with a big preseason performance.

Kansas City Royals

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    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Salvador PerezRHP Yordano Ventura
    1B Eric HosmerLHP Jason Vargas
    2B Omar InfanteRHP Edinson Volquez
    3B Mike MoustakasRHP Jeremy Guthrie
    SS Alcides EscobarLHP Danny Duffy
    LF Alex GordonBullpen
    CF Lorenzo CainRHP Yohan Pino
    RF Alex RiosRHP Luke Hochevar
    DH Kendrys MoralesLHP Tim Collins
    BenchRHP Jason Frasor
    C Erik KratzRHP Kelvin Herrera
    IF Christian ColonRHP Wade Davis
    OF Jarrod DysonRHP Greg Holland
    OF Moises Sierra 

    DL: SP Kris Medlen (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Bench Spot

    The Kansas City Royals roster is more or less set heading into spring training, outside of the final spot in the bullpen and the final slot on the bench. Given how talented the first six guys in their bullpen are, there's a good chance the pitcher who wins the last bullpen job won't make much of an impact, so we'll instead focus on that bench job.

    Backup catcher Erik Kratz, utility infielder Christian Colon and speedy reserve outfielder Jarrod Dyson are all essentially locks, but the fifth spot could go to one of a number of guys.

    It will likely be an outfielder, and non-roster invitee Moises Sierra could be the best choice as someone who can provide some pop on a bench that is otherwise thin on power.

    Pinch runner Terrance Gore, who made a name for himself during the postseason last year, is also an option.

    Don't count out Paulo Orlando, though, as he hit .301/.355/.415 with 36 extra-base hits and 34 steals in Triple-A last year, earning a place on the 40-man roster this offseason.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Chris IannettaRHP Jered Weaver
    1B Albert PujolsLHP C.J. Wilson
    2B Josh RutledgeRHP Matt Shoemaker
    3B David FreeseLHP Hector Santiago
    SS Erick AybarLHP Andrew Heaney (R)
    LF Josh HamiltonBullpen
    CF Mike TroutLHP Cesar Ramos
    RF Kole CalhounRHP Vinnie Pestano
    DH Matt JoyceLHP Scott Snodgress (R)
    BenchRHP Michael Morin
    C Drew ButeraRHP Fernando Salas
    1B C.J. CronRHP Joe Smith
    IF/OF Grant GreenRHP Huston Street
    OF Collin Cowgill 

    DL: SP Garrett Richards (knee), SP Tyler Skaggs (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Second Base

    Flipping veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick in the final year of his contract for one of the game's top left-handed pitching prospects, Andrew Heaney, was a terrific long-term move for the Los Angeles Angels, but they'll no doubt feel the loss of Kendrick in 2015.

    There are a few players in the running for the open second base job, but former Colorado Rockies infielder Josh Rutledge is undoubtedly the front-runner.

    The 25-year-old posted a .775 OPS with 20 doubles and eight home runs in 277 at-bats stepping in for an injured Troy Tulowitzki back in 2012, but he has struggled to hold onto the everyday second base job the past two seasons and was eventually supplanted by Gold Glove winner DJ LeMahieu.

    Johnny Giavotella, Grant Green, Sherman Jones, top prospect Alex Yarbrough and Rule 5 selection Taylor Featherston will all see time at second this spring as well.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Yasmani GrandalLHP Clayton Kershaw
    1B Adrian GonzalezRHP Zack Greinke
    2B Howie KendrickLHP Hyun-Jin Ryu
    3B Juan UribeRHP Brandon McCarthy
    SS Jimmy RollinsLHP Brett Anderson
    LF Carl CrawfordBullpen
    CF Joc Pederson (R)RHP Chris Hatcher
    RF Yasiel PuigLHP Adam Liberatore (R)
    BenchRHP Brandon League
    C A.J. EllisRHP Pedro Baez (R)
    IF Justin TurnerLHP J.P Howell
    1B/OF Scott Van SlykeRHP Joel Peralta
    OF Andre EthierRHP Kenley Jansen
    OF Chris Heisey 

    DL: RP Chris Withrow (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Bullpen Spot

    The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't make quite the sweeping bullpen overhaul that some expected, but the additions of Joel Peralta and Chris Hatcher and subtractions of Chris Perez, Brian Wilson and Jamey Wright have left the pen with a new look.

    Veterans J.P. Howell and Brandon League are safe bets to join the two newcomers and All-Star closer Kenley Jansen to fill five of the bullpen spots. Pedro Baez is also more or less a lock after posting a 2.63 ERA in 20 appearances as a rookie last year.

    That leaves one spot to go to someone from the group of Juan Nicasio, Carlos Frias, Paco Rodriguez, Yimi Garcia, Daniel Coulombe and Adam Liberatore.

    Assuming the team would prefer to have a second left-hander alongside Howell, the top candidates are presumably Rodriguez and Liberatore.

    Rodriguez had an up-and-down season after shining as a rookie in 2013, while Liberatore came over in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays after a dominant showing in Triple-A last year saw him post a 1.66 ERA, 0.892 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 65 innings of work.

Miami Marlins

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Jarrod SaltalamacchiaRHP Henderson Alvarez
    1B Michael MorseRHP Mat Latos
    2B Dee GordonRHP Jarred Cosart
    3B Martin PradoRHP Tom Koehler
    SS Adeiny HechavarriaLHP Brad Hand
    LF Christian YelichBullpen
    CF Marcell OzunaRHP David Phelps
    RF Giancarlo StantonLHP Andrew McKirahan (R)
    BenchRHP Aaron Crow
    C Jeff MathisRHP Bryan Morris
    1B Justin Bour (R)LHP Mike Dunn
    IF Donovan SolanoRHP A.J. Ramos
    IF/OF Jeff BakerRHP Steve Cishek
    OF Ichiro Suzuki 

    DL: SP Jose Fernandez (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    No. 5 Starter

    Questions about the Miami Marlins' No. 5 starter spot begin with whether veteran Dan Haren is serious about his plans to retire if he's not traded to a West Coast team.

    Haren indicated last month that he plans to attend spring training with the team, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, but that does not necessarily mean he has backed down from his previous stance.

    If he does in fact retire or wind up traded, there is no clear-cut choice to round out the starting rotation until Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery around midseason. Brad Hand and David Phelps both seem like solid bets to win a spot in the bullpen, but they are capable of starting as well, and one of them could get the first crack at that final rotation spot.

    The team also acquired Andre Rienzo from the Chicago White Sox this offseason in exchange for lefty reliever Dan Jennings, after he made 21 starts over the past two seasons.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Jonathan LucroyRHP Matt Garza
    1B Adam LindRHP Wily Peralta
    2B Scooter GennettRHP Kyle Lohse
    3B Aramis RamirezRHP Mike Fiers
    SS Jean SeguraRHP Jimmy Nelson
    LF Khris DavisBullpen
    CF Carlos GomezRHP Tyler Thornburg
    RF Ryan BraunRHP Jeremy Jeffress
    BenchRHP Brandon Kintzler
    C Martin MaldonadoLHP Neal Cotts
    IF Hector GomezRHP Jim Henderson
    IF Luis JimenezLHP Will Smith
    OF Gerardo ParraRHP Jonathan Broxton
    OF Logan Schafer 

    DL: None

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Bench Spot

    Useful bench depth was an issue for the Milwaukee Brewers for much of the 2014 season, and while the deadline acquisition of Gerardo Parra gave them a terrific fourth outfield option, the reserve infield spot was still very much a question mark.

    Luis Jimenez was claimed off waivers after hitting .286/.321/.505 with 34 doubles and 21 home runs in Triple-A last year, and he has a good chance at one of the open bench spots backing up both corner infield spots.

    Backup catcher Martin Maldonado and outfielder Logan Schafer also look to have a good chance at cracking the 25-man roster, but that still leaves the team in need of a reserve middle infielder.

    Former top prospect Hector Gomez hit .282/.325/.483 with 25 doubles and 15 home runs in Triple-A last year, and he will look to edge out newly acquired Luis Sardinas for the spot.

    The San Diego Padres have shown interest in Sardinas in the past, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, so it's not out of the question to think he could be flipped again before the season starts.

Minnesota Twins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Kurt SuzukiRHP Phil Hughes
    1B Joe MauerRHP Ervin Santana
    2B Brian DozierRHP Ricky Nolasco
    3B Trevor PlouffeLHP Tommy Milone
    SS Danny SantanaRHP Kyle Gibson
    LF Oswaldo ArciaBullpen
    CF Aaron HicksRHP J.R. Graham (R)
    RF Torii HunterRHP Michael Tonkin
    DH Kennys VargasLHP Caleb Thielbar
    BenchRHP Tim Stauffer
    C Josmil PintoLHP Brian Duensing
    IF Eduardo EscobarRHP Casey Fien
    IF/OF Eduardo NunezLHP Glen Perkins
    OF Jordan Schafer 

    DL: SP Mike Pelfrey (elbow)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Center Field

    Former top prospect Aaron Hicks began the 2014 season as the Minnesota Twins starting center fielder, but he lost the job and was eventually demoted after hitting just .198/.338/.262 over his first 126 at-bats and then suffering a shoulder injury.

    Danny Santana saw the bulk of the playing time there the rest of the way, but new manager Paul Molitor made it clear early on that he intends to move him back to his natural shortstop position, according to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.

    Molitor also said that he thinks Hicks can still emerge as the everyday center fielder, so it stands to reason that he'll get the first crack at the job this spring.

    If he flops again, it could be Jordan Schafer in the starting role, as he hit .285/.345/.362 in 130 at-bats with the team last year after being claimed off waivers from the Atlanta Braves in August.

    Prospects Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario are also on the 40-man roster, while Eric Farris, Shane Robinson and Wilkin Ramirez are in camp as non-roster invitees. Whoever wins the job is still just keeping things warm for top prospect Byron Buxton, though.

New York Mets

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Travis d'ArnaudRHP Matt Harvey
    1B Lucas DudaRHP Jake deGrom
    2B Daniel MurphyLHP Jon Niese
    3B David WrightRHP Bartolo Colon
    SS Wilmer FloresRHP Zack Wheeler
    LF Curtis GrandersonBullpen
    CF Juan LagaresRHP Dillon Gee
    RF Michael CuddyerLHP Sean Gilmartin (R)
    BenchRHP Carlos Torres
    C Anthony ReckerRHP Vic Black
    1B/OF John MayberryLHP Josh Edgin
    IF Ruben TejadaRHP Jeurys Familia
    OF Matt den DekkerRHP Jenrry Mejia
    OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis 

    DL: RP Bobby Parnell (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Bench Spot

    Backup catcher Anthony Recker, infielder Ruben Tejada and offseason signing John Mayberry look like locks to fill three bench spots for the New York Mets this coming season, but the Mets will have some decisions to make regarding their backup outfielders.

    Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Cesar Puello are both out of minor league options, so they'll no doubt be given the first crack at those final two roster spots, but they will have to hold off Matt den Dekker.

    Puello was once among the team's top prospects when he reached Single-A as a 19-year-old, but he has struggled in the high minors and also saw his development sidetracked when he was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis case.

    He hit just .252 with a .748 OPS in Triple-A last season, and unless he impresses this spring, his time with the organization could be coming to an end.

New York Yankees

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Brian McCannRHP Masahiro Tanaka
    1B Mark TeixeiraLHP CC Sabathia
    2B Stephen DrewRHP Michael Pineda
    3B Chase HeadleyRHP Nathan Eovaldi
    SS Didi GregoriusLHP Chris Capuano
    LF Brett GardnerBullpen
    CF Jacoby EllsburyRHP Esmil Rogers
    RF Carlos BeltranLHP Chasen Shreve
    DH Garrett JonesRHP Adam Warren
    BenchLHP Justin Wilson
    C Austin RomineRHP David Carpenter
    3B Alex RodriguezLHP Andrew Miller
    IF Brendan RyanRHP Dellin Betances
    OF Chris Young 

    DL: SP Ivan Nova (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Second Base

    Most New York Yankees fans were excited to watch what figured to be a battle for the everyday second base job between prospects Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela this spring, but the team's re-signing of veteran Stephen Drew to a one-year, $5 million deal has thrown a wrench into those plans.

    Refsnyder was one of the breakout prospects of 2014, hitting .318/.387/.497 with 38 doubles and 14 home runs while splitting the season between Double-A and Triple-A. That did not, however, land him a spot on the 40-man roster.

    Not to be outdone, Pirela hit .305/.351/.441 with 21 doubles, 11 triples and 10 home runs in a full season at the Triple-A level. That earned him a cup of coffee in September, and he went 8-for-24 with a double and two triples in New York.

    Meanwhile, Drew sat out half of last season after being saddled with a qualifying offer, then went on to hit just .162/.237/.299 in 271 at-bats with the Red Sox and Yankees.

    Now, the team could still go with one of the prospects at second base and Drew in a super-utility role, but that would mean releasing Brendan Ryan, who is set to make $2 million this season, and the team does value his glove off the bench.

Oakland Athletics

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Stephen VogtRHP Sonny Gray
    1B Ike DavisLHP Scott Kazmir
    2B Ben ZobristRHP Jesse Hahn
    3B Brett LawrieLHP Drew Pomeranz
    SS Marcus SemienRHP Jesse Chavez
    LF Sam FuldBullpen
    CF Coco CrispRHP Evan Scribner
    RF Josh ReddickRHP R.J. Alvarez (R)
    DH Billy ButlerLHP Eric O'Flaherty
    BenchRHP Dan Otero
    C Josh PhegleyLHP Fernando Abad
    1B/OF Mark Canha (R)RHP Ryan Cook
    IF Eric SogardRHP Tyler Clippard
    OF Craig Gentry 

    DL: SP Jarrod Parker (TJ recovery), SP A.J. Griffin (TJ recovery), RP Sean Doolittle (slight rotator cuff tear)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    No. 5 Starter

    With Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel all gone from the rotation that finished up the 2014 season for the Oakland A's, this year's staff figures to have a decidedly different look, like much of the roster.

    Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir give the team a solid one-two punch at the top, but the final three spots in the rotation are all question marks.

    Jesse Hahn was acquired from the San Diego Padres after going 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA as a rookie last year, and he looks like a safe bet to be penciled into one of those remaining spots.

    Lefty Drew Pomeranz posted a 2.35 ERA in 69 innings of work in a swingman role, making 10 starts and 10 relief appearances. He had a 2.58 ERA in those 10 starts, and that is probably enough for the former No. 5 overall pick to get an extended look as a starter.

    The final spot comes down to a decision on whether the team wants to use Jesse Chavez as a starter again, or if it'd prefer to use one of its newly acquired starters from the group of Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and Chris Bassitt to round out the staff.

    Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are also both set to return, likely at some point in the first half, after missing all of the 2014 season with Tommy John surgery.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Carlos RuizLHP Cole Hamels
    1B Ryan HowardLHP Cliff Lee
    2B Chase UtleyRHP Aaron Harang
    3B Cody AscheRHP David Buchanan
    SS Freddy GalvisRHP Jerome Williams
    LF Domonic BrownBullpen
    CF Ben RevereRHP Miguel Gonzalez
    RF Grady SizemoreRHP Phillippe Aumont
    BenchLHP Mario Hollands
    C Cameron RuppRHP Justin De Fratus
    1B/OF Darin RufLHP Jake Diekman
    IF/OF Cesar HernandezRHP Ken Giles
    IF/OF Odubel Herrera (R)RHP Jonathan Papelbon
    OF Jeff Francoeur 

    DL: SP Chad Billingsley (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Bench Spot

    Outside of their projected everyday players, the Philadelphia Phillies have only nine other position players currently on the 40-man roster.

    Two of those players are backup catchers, only one of which will crack the Opening Day roster, while three more are prospects (Maikel Franco, Aaron Altherr and Kelly Dugan) who all figure to begin the season in the minors.

    Cameron Rupp, Darin Ruf and Cesar Hernandez are all fairly safe bets to be among the 25-man roster to open the season, but that leaves an interesting assortment of players to battle it out for the final two spots.

    Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera looks to have a good chance of sticking after hitting .315/.383/.388 with 26 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases between High-A and Double-A last season. His defensive versatility makes him an intriguing prospect, as he can play both middle infield spots and center field.

    That leaves the final spot to likely go to an outfielder from a group that includes Jordan Danks and non-roster invitees Jeff Francoeur, Darin Mastroianni, Chase d'Arnaud, Brian Bogusevic, Xavier Paul and Russ Canzler.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Francisco CervelliLHP Francisco Liriano
    1B Pedro AlvarezRHP Gerrit Cole
    2B Neil WalkerRHP A.J. Burnett
    3B Josh HarrisonLHP Jeff Locke
    SS Jordy MercerRHP Vance Worley
    LF Starling MarteBullpen
    CF Andrew McCutchenRHP Radhames Liz
    RF Gregory PolancoRHP Stolmy Pimentel
    BenchRHP John Holdzkom (R)
    C Chris StewartLHP Antonio Bastardo
    1B/OF Corey HartRHP Jared Hughes
    IF Jung-ho Kang (R)LHP Tony Watson
    IF/OF Sean RodriguezRHP Mark Melancon
    OF Andrew Lambo 

    DL: SP Charlie Morton (hip)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Bullpen Spot

    The Pittsburgh Pirates' recent trade of Travis Snider likely means Andrew Lambo will land the final bench spot, barring something unexpected happening this spring, and that leaves the bullpen as the area to watch as far as position battles are concerned.

    Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes and Antonio Bastardo are sure things to make the team, while hard-throwing rookie John Holdzkom looks poised to step into a bigger role and Stolmy Pimentel is out of options.

    Four 40-man roster players in Radhames Liz, Bobby LaFromboise, Casey Sadler and Rob Scahill figure to battle it out for the final spot.

    There are also 12 non-roster pitchers in camp, including some interesting names like Brad Lincoln, Clayton Richard and Collin Balester, so don't be surprised if one of them pitches his way onto the roster.

San Diego Padres

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Derek NorrisRHP Tyson Ross
    1B Yonder AlonsoRHP Andrew Cashner
    2B Jedd GyorkoRHP Ian Kennedy
    3B Yangervis SolarteLHP Robbie Erlin
    SS Alexi AmaristaRHP Brandon Morrow
    LF Justin UptonBullpen
    CF Wil MyersRHP Odrisamer Despaigne
    RF Matt KempRHP Shawn Kelley
    BenchLHP Alex Torres
    C Tim FederowiczRHP Nick Vincent
    1B/OF Tommy MedicaRHP Dale Thayer
    IF Clint BarmesRHP Kevin Quackenbush
    OF Carlos QuentinRHP Joaquin Benoit
    OF Will Venable 

    DL: SP Josh Johnson (TJ recovery), SP Cory Luebke (TJ recovery)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Third Base

    There will be enough newcomers in San Diego Padres camp this spring that name tags might be in order, but for the most part, their roster does not have many openings for unexpected players to sneak into the Opening Day mix.

    In fact, the Padres still need to sort out their outfield situation, as only two guys from the trio of Carlos Quentin, Will Venable and Cameron Maybin are going to be on the Opening Day roster. Maybin still has options, so sending him down to Triple-A to open the season is one possibility if no one is traded.

    However, as far as the most interesting position battle to watch, that will come at third base, where newcomer Will Middlebrooks is looking to unseat incumbent Yangervis Solarte.

    Middlebrooks hit just .213/.265/.364 in 563 at-bats with the Boston Red Sox the past two seasons, so the team is not going to simply hand him the job. The 26-year-old still has plenty of upside and power potential, though, and he could wind up being one of the steals of the offseason if he figures things out.

    My guess is Middlebrooks heads to Triple-A to open the season, barring a huge spring performance, and he may actually wind up seeing the bulk of his at-bats at first base if Yonder Alonso struggles once again.

San Francisco Giants

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Buster PoseyLHP Madison Bumgarner
    1B Brandon BeltRHP Matt Cain
    2B Joe PanikRHP Tim Hudson
    3B Casey McGeheeRHP Jake Peavy
    SS Brandon CrawfordRHP Ryan Vogelsong
    LF Nori AokiBullpen
    CF Angel PaganRHP Yusmeiro Petit
    RF Hunter PenceRHP Tim Lincecum
    BenchRHP Jean Machi
    C Hector SanchezLHP Javier Lopez
    1B/OF Travis IshikawaLHP Jeremy Affeldt
    IF Ehire AdrianzaRHP Sergio Romo
    IF Joaquin AriasRHP Santiago Casilla
    OF Gregor Blanco 

    DL: None

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    No. 5 Starter

    Unless someone goes down with an injury this spring, there's a really good chance the 25 guys listed above are the 25 guys that break camp with the San Francisco Giants. The starting lineup is set, the 12-man pitching staff is full of guys who are locks to make the team and the bench is made up of four guys who are out of minor league options and the backup catcher.

    There is some question as to whether it will be Hector Sanchez or Andrew Susac who opens the season backing up Buster Posey, but it would make more sense to get Susac at-bats in Triple-A than to stash him on the bench.

    That leaves the makeup of the starting rotation as the biggest question mark—or, more specifically, whether Tim Lincecum will open the season as the No. 5 starter or in the bullpen.

    Re-signing Ryan Vogelsong to a one-year, $4 million deal certainly gives some indication that the team is not 100 percent confident in Lincecum holding down the job—and understandably so after he has posted a 4.76 ERA over the past three seasons.

    There is also the question of Matt Cain returning from a pair of surgeries, as well as the inevitable veteran declines of Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy, so depth is a necessity for the Giants.

    It's tough to swallow moving Lincecum and his $18 million salary to the bullpen, but at this point, that may be the best way to utilize him for the Giants.

Seattle Mariners

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Mike ZuninoRHP Felix Hernandez
    1B Logan MorrisonRHP Hisashi Iwakuma
    2B Robinson CanoLHP James Paxton
    3B Kyle SeagerRHP Taijuan Walker
    SS Brad MillerLHP J.A. Happ
    LF Dustin AckleyBullpen
    CF Austin JacksonRHP Tom Wilhelmsen
    RF Seth SmithLHP David Rollins (R)
    DH Nelson CruzRHP Dominic Leone
    BenchLHP Charlie Furbush
    C Jesus SucreRHP Danny Farquhar
    IF/OF Willie BloomquistRHP Yoervis Medina
    OF Endy ChavezRHP Fernando Rodney
    OF Justin Ruggiano 

    DL: None

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Final Bullpen Spot

    The best bullpen in baseball last season (2.59 ERA) returns more or less intact this season, outside of trading Brandon Maurer to the San Diego Padres and losing Joe Beimel in free agency.

    Opting not to re-sign Beimel, who had a 2.20 ERA in 56 appearances but a 4.18 FIP that spelled trouble moving forward, leaves the team in need of a second left-hander in the bullpen.

    One option would be to go with Roenis Elias in that role, but the team may be better suited keeping him stretched out in Triple-A as the next in line to take over if a rotation spot opens up due to injury.

    Instead, it looks like Rule 5 pick David Rollins might have a real shot at cracking the roster, as he'll have to beat out Lucas Luetge, Mike Kickham and Edgar Olmos among 40-man roster options.

    Rollins, 25, posted a 3.81 ERA, 1.231 WHIP and 77 strikeouts in 78 innings pitching in Double-A for the Houston Astros organization last year. The Mariners actually drafted him twice before he eventually signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, so he's far from an unknown commodity to the organization.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Yadier MolinaRHP Adam Wainwright
    1B Matt AdamsRHP Lance Lynn
    2B Kolten WongRHP Michael Wacha
    3B Matt CarpenterRHP John Lackey
    SS Jhonny PeraltaRHP Carlos Martinez
    LF Matt HollidayBullpen
    CF Jon JayLHP Sam Freeman
    RF Jason HeywardLHP Randy Choate
    BenchRHP Matt Belisle
    C Tony CruzLHP Kevin Siegrist
    1B Mark ReynoldsRHP Seth Maness
    IF Pete KozmaRHP Jordan Walden
    OF Peter BourjosRHP Trevor Rosenthal
    OF Randal Grichuk (R) 

    DL: SP Jaime Garcia (shoulder)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    No. 5 Starter

    The St. Louis Cardinals roster looks to be more or less set heading into spring training, but if there is one area that could emerge as a question mark, it's the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Carlos Martinez will be given every chance to win that job, but it's hard to ignore the fact that he had a 4.45 ERA and 1.639 WHIP in seven starts last season, compared to a 3.79 ERA and 1.281 WHIP as a reliever.

    If he were to struggle this spring and someone like Marco Gonzales were to stand out, the team would have to give some serious consideration to returning Martinez to a setup role alongside newly acquired Jordan Walden.

    Gonzales, 22, went 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA in 10 games (five starts) as a rookie last season, before making six appearances out of the bullpen in the playoffs. After opening 2014 in High-A, Gonzales went 9-5 with a 2.43 ERA, 1.123 WHIP and 117 strikeouts in 122 innings over three levels before reaching the majors.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Rene RiveraRHP Alex Cobb
    1B James LoneyLHP Drew Smyly
    2B Nick FranklinRHP Chris Archer
    3B Evan LongoriaRHP Jake Odorizzi
    SS Asdrubal CabreraRHP Alex Colome
    LF Steven Souza (R)Bullpen
    CF Desmond JenningsRHP Kirby Yates
    RF Mikie Mahtook (R)RHP Jose Dominguez
    DH John JasoRHP Ernesto Frieri
    BenchLHP Jeff Beliveau
    C Curt Casali (R)RHP Brad Boxberger
    IF/OF Logan ForsytheRHP Kevin Jepsen
    OF David DeJesusRHP Grant Balfour
    OF Brandon Guyer 

    DL: SP Matt Moore (TJ recovery), RP Jake McGee (elbow)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    The Outfield Situation

    With Wil Myers and Matt Joyce both traded this offseason, the Tampa Bay Rays have some decisions to make regarding who plays on either side of center fielder Desmond Jennings for the upcoming season.

    Steven Souza, the prize of the Myers trade, figures to be the everyday left fielder unless he struggles this spring and is shipped to Triple-A to begin the year. That leaves Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Guyer, David DeJesus and Mikie Mahtook to compete for playing time in right field.

    Kiermaier posted a .765 OPS with 16 doubles, eight triples and 10 home runs in 331 at-bats last season. However, he slumped badly in the second half, hitting just .220/.284/.335, so he's by no means a lock for a roster spot.

    Guyer is out of options and DeJesus is owed $6 million, so unless the team finds a taker for DeJesus on the trade market, it may come down to a competition between Kiermaier and Mahtook. The team's first-round pick in 2011, Mahtook fell off the prospect radar a bit after struggling in 2013, but he rebounded to hit .292/.362/.458 with 33 doubles and 12 home runs in Triple-A this past season.

Texas Rangers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Robinson ChirinosRHP Yu Darvish
    1B Prince FielderLHP Derek Holland
    2B Rougned OdorRHP Yovani Gallardo
    3B Adrian BeltreRHP Colby Lewis
    SS Elvis AndrusLHP Ross Detwiler
    LF Ryan RuaBullpen
    CF Leonys MartinRHP Nick Tepesch
    RF Shin-Soo ChooRHP Roman Mendez
    DH Mitch MorelandLHP Alex Claudio (R)
    BenchRHP Shawn Tolleson
    C Carlos CorporanRHP Kyuji Fujikawa
    IF Adam RosalesRHP Tanner Scheppers
    OF Kyle BlanksRHP Neftali Feliz
    OF Delino DeShields 

    DL: SP Matt Harrison (neck), SP Martin Perez (TJ recovery), 2B Jurickson Profar (shoulder)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Left Field

    Despite declining their $14 million option on Alex Rios at the beginning of the offseason, the Texas Rangers failed to make a significant addition to replace him in left field, as they will instead pick from a handful of in-house options.

    Jake Smolinski may look like the top choice after hitting .349/.391/.512 with five doubles and three home runs in 86 at-bats last season, but he put up those numbers with an outrageous .458 BABIP while posting a 3.3 percent walk rate and 26.1 percent strikeout rate (per FanGraphs).

    None of that points to a repeat performance, and it could mean the soon-to-be 26-year-old Smolinski is ticketed for the minors this spring.

    Instead, Ryan Rua may wind up being the primary option to start the season, as he has emerged as an intriguing prospect over the past two seasons. He hit .295/.321/.419 with seven doubles and two home runs in 105 at-bats as a rookie last season, and the 24-year-old has a 32-homer season in the minors under his belt to give hope for some power potential.

    Non-roster invitee Kyle Blanks, Rule 5 pick Delino DeShields and Michael Choice will also be in the running for roster spots, but the left field job looks like Rua's to lose heading into camp.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Russell MartinLHP Mark Buehrle
    1B Edwin EncarnacionRHP R.A. Dickey
    2B Maicer IzturisRHP Marcus Stroman
    3B Josh DonaldsonRHP Drew Hutchison
    SS Jose ReyesLHP Daniel Norris (R)
    LF Michael SaundersBullpen
    CF Dalton Pompey (R)RHP Marco Estrada
    RF Jose BautistaRHP Todd Redmond
    DH Dioner NavarroRHP Kyle Drabek
    BenchLHP Aaron Loup
    C Josh TholeRHP Steve Delabar
    1B Justin SmoakLHP Brett Cecil
    IF/OF Steve TollesonRHP Aaron Sanchez (R)
    IF/OF Danny Valencia 

    DL: None

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    No. 5 Starter/Closer

    Outside of acquiring Marco Estrada from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Adam Lind, the Toronto Blue Jays have failed to make any significant additions to a bullpen that ranked 25th in the league last year with a 4.09 ERA.

    With closer Casey Janssen gone in free agency, the team will need to decide who steps into the ninth inning, and the leading candidates appear to be former All-Star Brett Cecil and top prospect Aaron Sanchez.

    Sanchez posted a 1.09 ERA and 0.697 WHIP in 24 appearances as a rookie last season, converting all three of his save chances. However, he is also a candidate for the No. 5 starter spot, which was vacated when the team traded J.A. Happ to the Seattle Mariners.

    His biggest competition there appears to be fellow top prospect Daniel Norris, who went 12-2 with a 2.53 ERA, 1.118 WHIP and 163 strikeouts in 124.1 innings of work in the minors last season to emerge as one of the top pitching prospects in the game.

    Sanchez is still probably further along in his development, but the team's best overall roster option may be to slot him in the setup or closer's role and give Norris a shot at holding down a rotation spot.

Washington Nationals

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting LineupStarting Rotation
    C Wilson RamosRHP Jordan Zimmermann
    1B Ryan ZimmermanRHP Max Scherzer
    2B Yunel EscobarRHP Stephen Strasburg
    3B Anthony RendonRHP Doug Fister
    SS Ian DesmondLHP Gio Gonzalez
    LF Michael Taylor (R)Bullpen
    CF Denard SpanRHP Tanner Roark
    RF Bryce HarperLHP Jerry Blevins
    BenchRHP Craig Stammen
    C Jose LobatonRHP Aaron Barrett
    1B/OF Tyler MooreLHP Matt Thornton
    IF Danny EspinosaRHP Casey Janssen
    IF/OF Kevin FrandsenRHP Drew Storen
    OF Nate McLouth 

    DL: RF Jayson Werth (shoulder)

    Top Roster Battle to Watch This Spring

    Jayson Werth Replacement

    On top of his recent 5-day jail stint, Jayson Werth also made headlines this offseason when he underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery at the beginning of January. The surgery is expected to take two to three months to rehab, so there's still a chance he could be ready for Opening Day. But the most likely scenario is him sticking behind at extended spring training to make up for lost time.

    As a result, the Washington Nationals will need to find a short-term replacement in left field, and top prospect Michael Taylor could be the guy if he turns in a big spring performance. Taylor hit .304/.390/.526 with 20 doubles, 23 home runs and 37 steals between Double-A and Triple-A last season and ranks as one of the most exciting outfield prospects in the game today.

    The other option would be to go with veteran Nate McLouth on an everyday basis until Werth returns, but he is coming off of a season where he hit just .173/.280/.237 in 139 at-bats.

    One can't help but be reminded of the 2013 Red Sox here, when Jackie Bradley played his way onto the Opening Day roster with a big spring training, thanks to a roster spot being opened up when David Ortiz began the season on the DL.

    *All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted. Though my opinions differed in many cases, the depth chart information from Roster Resource served as an invaluable tool putting this article together.

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