Projecting Every MLB Team's Starting Lineup 1 Week from 2019 Spring Training

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2019

Projecting Every MLB Team's Starting Lineup 1 Week from 2019 Spring Training

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    We're now just one week from the start of spring training and less than two months from 2019 Opening Day.

    The end is in sight, folks.

    That said, there's still a lot of offseason left. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and a number of other notable free agents remain unsigned.

    Despite that fact, we set out to forecast every team's starting lineup at the dawn of the MLB season, complete with predictions on where Harper, Machado and a handful of other hitters will wind up.

    Below each team's projected lineup, we selected a potential breakout hitter and highlighted one notable position battle to watch.

    Let's get started.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    David Peralta
    David PeraltaRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Ketel Marte
    2. 3B Eduardo Escobar
    3. LF David Peralta
    4. RF Steven Souza Jr.
    5. 1B Jake Lamb
    6. 2B Wilmer Flores
    7. SS Nick Ahmed
    8. C Alex Avila/Carson Kelly

       

    Breakout Candidate

    Center fielder Ketel Marte hit .296/.377/.464 after the All-Star break, and he had an MLB-leading 12 triples among his 52 extra-base hits. The 25-year-old looks like a long-term piece after signing a five-year, $24 million extension in March.

       

    Position Battle

    After Alex Avila hit .165 with a 59 OPS+ in the first season of a two-year, $8.3 million deal, the door is wide-open for the newly acquired Carson Kelly to seize the starting catcher job. The 24-year-old is a plus defender and has nothing left to prove in the minors, but he's hit just .154/.227/.188 in 131 MLB plate appearances over the past three seasons.

Atlanta Braves

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    Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr.
    Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Ronald Acuna Jr.
    2. RF Nick Markakis
    3. 1B Freddie Freeman
    4. 3B Josh Donaldson
    5. 2B Ozzie Albies
    6. C Brian McCann/Tyler Flowers
    7. CF Ender Inciarte
    8. SS Dansby Swanson

       

    Breakout Candidate

    Top prospect Austin Riley could force his way into the lineup before midseason. After posting an .882 OPS with 19 home runs in the upper levels of the minors, he's already knocking on the door. An injury to Josh Donaldson would provide a clear path at his natural position, while a short-term move to a corner outfield spot could also be an option.

       

    Position Battle

    If shortstop Dansby Swanson doesn't improve on his .238/.304/.395 line from a year ago, his strong defense might not be enough to keep him in the starting lineup. Johan Camargo has been pushed into a super-utility role despite a 116 OPS+ and 19 home runs in a 3.7 WAR season. He fits best at third base, but Camargo also has 345.2 innings of experience at shortstop from the past two seasons.

Baltimore Orioles

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    DJ Stewart
    DJ StewartJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Cedric Mullins
    2. 2B Jonathan Villar
    3. LF Trey Mancini
    4. DH Mark Trumbo
    5. 1B Chris Davis
    6. 3B Renato Nunez
    7. RF DJ Stewart
    8. SS Jose Iglesias (projected signing)
    9. C Chance Sisco/Austin Wynns

       

    Breakout Candidate

    Center fielder Cedric Mullins hit .289/.346/.472 with 49 extra-base hits and 21 steals in Double-A and Triple-A last season and then held his own following a mid-August call-up to the majors. His strong defense will keep him in the lineup, and he has the offensive tools to develop into a solid table-setter.

       

    Position Battle

    Even if the Orioles do sign slick-fielding Jose Iglesias—or one of the other available free agents, such as Adeiny Hechavarria or Alcides Escobar—they're still going to take long looks at Rule 5 selections Richie Martin and Drew Jackson for playing time at shortstop. If they don't sign anyone, Martin looks like the front-runner for the starting gig.

Boston Red Sox

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    J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts
    J.D. Martinez and Mookie BettsBillie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Mookie Betts
    2. LF Andrew Benintendi
    3. DH J.D. Martinez
    4. SS Xander Bogaerts
    5. 3B Rafael Devers
    6. 2B Dustin Pedroia
    7. 1B Mitch Moreland/Steve Pearce
    8. C Christian Vazquez/Sandy Leon
    9. CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

       

    Breakout Candidate

    We haven't seen the best Rafael Devers has to offer. It's easy to forget the longtime top prospect is still only 22 years old. Most players spend their age-21 season in the minors. Devers spent his posting a 94 OPS+ with 21 home runs and 66 RBI in the big leagues. His .298 on-base percentage needs work, but there's a prototypical middle-of-the-order run producer bubbling below the surface.

       

    Position Battle

    An injured Dustin Pedroia and an underperforming Eduardo Nunez led the Red Sox to acquire veteran Ian Kinsler to man second base for the stretch run. Pedroia is expected to be back healthy and Nunez will return as well, but what happens if Boston experiences deja vu at the keystone in 2019? And what's the long-term plan at the position? Look for top prospect Michael Chavis to see time at second in spring training.

Chicago Cubs

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    Javier Baez
    Javier BaezAndrew Weber/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Ben Zobrist
    2. 3B Kris Bryant
    3. 1B Anthony Rizzo
    4. SS Javier Baez
    5. LF Kyle Schwarber
    6. C Willson Contreras
    7. RF Jason Heyward
    8. CF Albert Almora Jr./Ian Happ

       

    Breakout Candidate

    The Cubs need to do a better job keeping Willson Contreras fresh after he ran out of gas down the stretch last season while catching 133 games. That probably means finding an upgrade over incumbent backup Victor Caratini—the defensive-minded Martin Maldonado would be perfect. With some semi-regular rest, Contreras would have a chance to be the best offensive catcher in baseball.

       

    Position Battle

    While it won't be an immediate issue, the Cubs could be forced to find a spot for top prospect Nico Hoerner sooner rather than later. The No. 24 pick in the 2018 draft hit .327/.450/.571 in 60 plate appearances after signing last summer and then raked in the Arizona Fall League to the tune of a .337/.362/.506 line in 21 games. He could push Ben Zobrist off second base by midseason, which would create a logjam in the outfield.

Chicago White Sox

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    Jose Abreu
    Jose AbreuJulio Aguilar/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Yoan Moncada
    2. SS Tim Anderson
    3. 3B Manny Machado (projected signing)
    4. DH Jose Abreu
    5. CF Joc Pederson (projected trade)
    6. 1B Yonder Alonso
    7. C Welington Castillo
    8. LF Daniel Palka
    9. RF Jon Jay

       

    Breakout Candidate

    He might not appear on the projected Opening Day lineup, but it's only a matter of time before Eloy Jimenez is penciled into the middle of the White Sox lineup. The 22-year-old has the best raw power of any prospect, and after hitting .337/.384/.577 with 22 home runs in 108 games in Double-A and Triple-A, he's ready. But a broken system will mean a couple of weeks in the minors to start the season.

       

    Position Battle

    If the White Sox sign Manny Machado, as we've projected, it would leave Yolmer Sanchez without a position. The 26-year-old has been worth 6.1 WAR the past two seasons, and he's under control through 2021, so he might draw some interest on the trade market. Otherwise, he could steal playing time from Yoan Moncada if the latter's development continues to stagnate.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto
    Eugenio Suarez and Joey VottoJamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. SS Jose Peraza
    2. LF Jesse Winker
    3. 1B Joey Votto
    4. 3B Eugenio Suarez
    5. 2B Scooter Gennett
    6. RF Yasiel Puig
    7. CF Scott Schebler
    8. C Tucker Barnhart

       

    Breakout Candidate

    Top prospect Nick Senzel will be in the majors at some point during the first half of the season. The 23-year-old would have broken through last season if not for a fractured right index finger that required season-ending surgery. He can be a perennial .300 hitter and has enough power to develop into a run producer. If he seizes a regular role quickly, he'll be one of the National League Rookie of the Year front-runners.

       

    Position Battle

    It's looking more and more like Senzel will get a chance to claim the vacant center field job once he arrives. That will leave two spots in the outfield for Jesse Winker, Yasiel Puig and Scott Schebler. There are a lot of moving parts since Senzel can also play second and third base, which could mean a beneficial balancing act.

Cleveland Indians

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    Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor
    Jose Ramirez and Francisco LindorJason Miller/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. SS Francisco Lindor
    2. 2B Jason Kipnis
    3. 3B Jose Ramirez
    4. DH Carlos Santana
    5. LF Adam Jones (projected signing)
    6. 1B Jake Bauers
    7. RF Tyler Naquin
    8. C Roberto Perez/Kevin Plawecki
    9. CF Leonys Martin

       

    Breakout Candidate

    The newly acquired Jake Bauers ranked among Baseball America's top 100 prospects for three years running from 2016 to 2018. He then posted a 94 OPS+ with 22 doubles and 11 home runs over 388 plate appearances in his first MLB action. The 23-year-old is also capable of manning the corner outfield spots, so he should be given every chance to play regularly in Cleveland.

       

    Position Battle

    The Indians outfield is a mess. As it stands, some combination of Tyler Naquin, Leonys Martin, Greg Allen and Jordan Luplow are the leading candidates to man the three spots. Bradley Zimmer will enter the fray once he recovers from shoulder surgery. Free agent Adam Jones looks like a great fit, and he's one of a number of notable veterans who are still available.

Colorado Rockies

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    Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon
    Nolan Arenado and Charlie BlackmonRalph Freso/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Charlie Blackmon
    2. 1B Daniel Murphy
    3. RF David Dahl
    4. 3B Nolan Arenado
    5. SS Trevor Story
    6. LF Ian Desmond
    7. C Chris Iannetta
    8. 2B Garrett Hampson

       

    Breakout Candidate

    2012 No. 10 overall pick David Dahl didn't play in the majors in 2017 after a breakout rookie season, as a stress fracture in one of his ribs derailed his season. After a slow start last year, he came on strong down the stretch, hitting .287/.330/.655 with nine home runs and 27 RBI after Aug. 31. Still just 24, he's ready to take his game to the next level.

       

    Position Battle

    The right side of the infield could feature a revolving door. Free-agent signee Daniel Murphy, non-roster invitee Mark Reynolds, former top prospect Ryan McMahon and outfielder Ian Desmond could all play first base. Rookie Garrett Hampson might get the first crack at the vacant second base job, though McMahon and Murphy are also capable of lining up there. That's to say nothing of infield prospects Brendan Rodgers and Tyler Nevin.

Detroit Tigers

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    Jeimer Candelario
    Jeimer CandelarioDuane Burleson/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. 3B Jeimer Candelario
    2. DH Christin Stewart
    3. RF Nicholas Castellanos
    4. 1B Miguel Cabrera
    5. 2B Niko Goodrum
    6. LF Mikie Mahtook
    7. SS Jordy Mercer
    8. C Grayson Greiner/Devin Mesoraco (projected signing)
    9. CF JaCoby Jones

       

    Breakout Candidate

    Christin Stewart has slugged 83 home runs over the past three seasons in the minors, and he hit .264/.364/.480 with 23 home runs and 77 RBI in Triple-A last year. The 25-year-old posted a 117 OPS+ with two home runs and 10 RBI in a 17-game MLB audition in September, and he appears to have a clear path to a starting job.

       

    Position Battle

    The biggest unknown for the Tigers is the catcher position, where the 26-year-old Grayson Greiner is the projected starter. While he's a solid defender, Greiner hit just .248/.318/.379 over five minor league seasons, and he profiles best as a backup at the MLB level. At the very least, someone like Devin Mesoraco would be a worthwhile addition as a platoon partner. Veteran John Hicks is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster, while Bobby Wilson and Hector Sanchez signed minor league deals.

Houston Astros

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    Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve
    Alex Bregman and Jose AltuveBob Levey/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF George Springer
    2. 2B Jose Altuve
    3. 3B Alex Bregman
    4. SS Carlos Correa
    5. LF Michael Brantley
    6. 1B Yuli Gurriel
    7. DH Tyler White
    8. RF Josh Reddick
    9. C Robinson Chirinos

       

    Breakout Candidate

    It looks like Tyler White will parlay his big second half (197 PA, .901 OPS, 10 HR) into the starting designated hitter job in 2019. The 28-year-old has always shown offensive potential, including an .898 OPS and 25 home runs in a full season at Triple-A in 2017. If he gets 500 plate appearances, a 30-homer season is not out of the question.

       

    Position Battle

    With two years and $26 million left on his contract, Josh Reddick will have to do better than a 99 OPS+ and 17 home runs if he wants to hold on to an everyday job in the outfield. Standout defender Jake Marisnick, utility man Tony Kemp, top prospect Kyle Tucker and former standout prospect Derek Fisher are all champing at the bit.

Kansas City Royals

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    Adalberto Mondesi
    Adalberto MondesiJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Whit Merrifield
    2. SS Adalberto Mondesi
    3. LF Alex Gordon
    4. C Salvador Perez
    5. RF Jorge Soler
    6. DH Ryan O'Hearn
    7. 1B Logan Morrison (projected signing)
    8. 3B Hunter Dozier
    9. CF Billy Hamilton

       

    Breakout Candidate

    It might be more appropriate to say Adalberto Mondesi has already broken out after he posted a 116 OPS+ with 13 doubles, 14 home runs and 32 steals in 75 games last season. The 23-year-old is capable of even more in his first full big league season, though. After shuttling between Triple-A and the majors in 2016 and 2017, he's no longer looking over his shoulder.

       

    Position Battle

    Some combination of Jorge Soler, Brian Goodwin, Jorge Bonifacio, Chris Owings and Brett Phillips will fill the right field and DH slots in the Kansas City lineup. Adding Logan Morrison in free agency—a move akin to the signing of Lucas Duda last offseason—would be a worthwhile risk, but it would also further muddy that situation. One way or another, Ryan O'Hearn needs everyday at-bats, whether they come at first base or as the primary DH.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Mike Trout
    Mike TroutAlex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Kole Calhoun
    2. 2B David Fletcher
    3. CF Mike Trout
    4. LF Justin Upton
    5. SS Andrelton Simmons
    6. 1B Justin Bour
    7. DH Albert Pujols
    8. 3B Zack Cozart
    9. C Jonathan Lucroy

       

    Breakout Candidate

    Third base prospect Taylor Ward hit a robust .349/.446/.531 with 26 doubles, 14 home runs and 18 steals in 102 games in Double-A and Triple-A last season. That earned him his first MLB call-up, but he struggled to a .178/.245/.333 line in 147 plate appearances. Another strong start in the minors should earn him a second look, and he could push Zack Cozart over to second base and David Fletcher to the bench.

       

    Position Battle

    The starting lineup is more or less set. The bench is another story. Kevan Smith will serve as the backup catcher, and utility infielder Tommy La Stella has a spot. The other one or two backup jobs are up for grabs. Catcher Jose Briceno, infielders Taylor Ward and Luis Rengifo and outfielder Michael Hermosillo are the other players on the 40-man roster. That means a non-roster invitee such as Peter Bourjos or Jarrett Parker could push his way onto the bench.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger
    Justin Turner and Cody BellingerJason Miller/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF A.J. Pollock
    2. SS Corey Seager
    3. 3B Justin Turner
    4. RF Cody Bellinger
    5. 1B Max Muncy/David Freese
    6. 2B Chris Taylor
    7. LF Alex Verdugo/Enrique Hernandez
    8. C Russell Martin/Austin Barnes

       

    Breakout Candidate

    With Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp out of the picture and Joc Pederson hypothetically traded, top prospect Alex Verdugo finally has a clear path to playing time. The 22-year-old will never be an elite power threat, but he has a chance to be a perennial .300 hitter and hit 40-plus doubles. A platoon with Enrique Hernandez will also keep him from being exposed against tough lefties.

       

    Position Battle

    The Dodgers' platoon-heavy approach makes the position battle conversation moot, at least as far as the starting lineup is concerned. The bigger competition will come for the final spot on the bench. If Joc Pederson stays put, it could mean Verdugo starts the season in the minors again and Andrew Toles scores the final bench spot. Non-roster invitees Paulo Orlando, Shane Peterson and Ezequiel Carrera could also get looks for a backup outfielder job.

Miami Marlins

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    Brian Anderson
    Brian AndersonJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Starlin Castro
    2. 3B Martin Prado
    3. RF Brian Anderson
    4. 1B Neil Walker
    5. LF Franmil Reyes (projected trade)
    6. C Francisco Mejia (projected trade)
    7. SS JT Riddle
    8. CF Lewis Brinson

       

    Breakout Candidate

    The Marlins could have a valuable trade chip on their hands in Starlin Castro if a need arises up the middle for a contender. He's in the final guaranteed year of his contract with a $16 million club option for 2020. Assuming he is moved at some point, prospect Isan Diaz should get the first shot at replacing him. The 22-year-old was given 50-grade tools across the board by MLB.com, and he spent all of 2018 in the upper levels of the minors, so he looks ready to make an impact.

       

    Position Battle

    We're projecting catcher J.T. Realmuto to be traded to the Padres for a package of Francisco Mejia, Framil Reyes and one of San Diego's many quality pitching prospects and for the Marlins to plug Mejia and Reyes directly into the starting lineup. If such a trade doesn't happen, the left field job will be up for grabs. Austin Dean, Peter O'Brien, Rosell Herrera, Magneuris Sierra and non-roster invitee Harold Ramirez are among the in-house options.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Christian Yelich
    Christian YelichMorry Gash/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Lorenzo Cain
    2. LF Christian Yelich
    3. 1B Jesus Aguilar
    4. 3B Travis Shaw
    5. RF Ryan Braun
    6. C Yasmani Grandal
    7. 2B Josh Harrison (projected signing)
    8. SS Orlando Arcia

       

    Breakout Candidate

    Shortstop Orlando Arcia struggled offensively to the point that he was demoted to Triple-A not once but twice last season. He returned from the second demotion July 26 and hit .290/.320/.386 with 12 extra-base hits in 154 plate appearances the rest of the way. The 24-year-old then went 11-for-33 with three home runs in the postseason, and he may finally be ready to establish himself as the long-term shortstop in 2019.

       

    Position Battle

    Whether the Brewers sign a free agent like Josh Harrison or roll with scrapheap pickup Cory Spangenberg and utility man Hernan Perez at second base, they're just keeping the position warm for top prospect Keston Hiura. The 22-year-old hit .323/.371/.563 over 105 plate appearances to win Arizona Fall League MVP honors, and a strong spring training could put him in line for an early call-up.

Minnesota Twins

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    Eddie Rosario
    Eddie RosarioJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. SS Jorge Polanco
    2. LF Eddie Rosario
    3. RF Max Kepler
    4. DH Nelson Cruz
    5. 1B C.J. Cron
    6. 2B Jonathan Schoop
    7. 3B Miguel Sano
    8. C Jason Castro/Willians Astudillo
    9. CF Byron Buxton

       

    Breakout Candidate

    After serving an 80-game performance-enhancing drugs suspension at the start of last season, Jorge Polanco returned to post a 109 OPS+ with 27 extra-base hits in 77 games. The 25-year-old finished on a high note with a .310/.361/.460 line in September, and the stalled development of Nick Gordon will give him another chance to lock down the everyday shortstop role.

       

    Position Battle

    Veteran Jason Castro played just 19 games last season before suffering a torn meniscus. In his absence, Mitch Garver (335 PA, 103 OPS+, 7 HR, 45 RBI) and Willians Astudillo (97 PA, 138 OPS+, 3 HR, 21 RBI) played well. Astudillo further boosted his stock by hitting .316/.360/.481 with eight home runs and 41 RBI in 55 games in the Venezuelan Winter League. Someone is going to be the odd man out.

New York Mets

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    Robinson Cano
    Robinson CanoRichard Drew/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Brandon Nimmo
    2. 3B Jed Lowrie
    3. 2B Robinson Cano
    4. C Wilson Ramos
    5. LF Michael Conforto
    6. 1B Todd Frazier
    7. SS Amed Rosario
    8. CF Juan Lagares/Keon Broxton

       

    Breakout Candidate

    The bottom line on Amed Rosario was not great last season. He hit .256/.295/.381 in his first year as the Mets' everyday shortstop, but things were trending up as the season was winding down. The 23-year-old hit .284/.318/.413 with 17 extra-base hits and 15 steals over the final two months, and that may be the jumping off point for a big 2019.

       

    Position Battle

    Can veteran Todd Frazier hold off top prospect Peter Alonso? Frazier hit .213/.303/.390 with 18 home runs for a 95 OPS+ last season, and he'll be a free agent next offseason. Alonso posted a .975 OPS with 31 doubles, 36 home runs and 119 RBI in Double-A and Triple-A and continued to rake in the Arizona Fall League. The 24-year-old upstart is ready. But will the Mets bench the high-priced veteran?

New York Yankees

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    Aaron Judge
    Aaron JudgeElsa/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Brett Gardner
    2. RF Aaron Judge
    3. CF Aaron Hicks
    4. DH Giancarlo Stanton
    5. 3B Miguel Andujar
    6. SS Gleyber Torres
    7. 1B Luke Voit
    8. C Gary Sanchez
    9. 2B DJ LeMahieu

       

    Breakout Candidate

    The biggest breakout candidate on the Yankees roster is also their biggest regression candidate. First baseman Luke Voit was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals in an under-the-radar trade July 29, and he hit .333/.405/.689 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI in 39 games. Those numbers aren't sustainable over a full season—but they also can't be dismissed. At the very least, he has a chance to be the short-term answer at first base and a 30-homer threat.

       

    Position Battle

    The real position battle will come at midseason when Didi Gregorius returns from Tommy John surgery. The offseason signing of DJ LeMahieu to a multiyear deal could mean the Yankees intend to let Gregorius walk in free agency next offseason. Even if that's the case, they'll still want to find a way to utilize him in 2019. Rookie standout Gleyber Torres will start the season as the primary shortstop and play every day one way or another. A potentially healthy Troy Tulowitzki is also in that mix for playing time up the middle.

Oakland Athletics

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    Khris Davis
    Khris DavisBen Margot/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Nick Martini/Chad Pinder
    2. 3B Matt Chapman
    3. RF Stephen Piscotty
    4. DH Khris Davis
    5. 1B Matt Olson
    6. 2B Jurickson Profar
    7. SS Marcus Semien
    8. C Matt Wieters (projected signing)
    9. CF Ramon Laureano

       

    Breakout Candidate

    The Athletics spent much of the season with a revolving door in center field before Ramon Laureano was promoted to the majors Aug. 3 after hitting .297/.380/.524 in Triple-A. The 24-year-old continued to produce, posting a 128 OPS+ with 18 extra-base hits and seven steals in 48 games en route to 2.1 WAR. He might not be destined for superstardom, but he may be the answer in center field.

       

    Position Battle

    The A's have to sign someone to play catcher, right? Veteran Jonathan Lucroy departed in free agency, leaving Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann as the only backstops on the 40-man roster. Top prospect Sean Murphy could be ready at some point in 2019, but a stopgap veteran would keep the team from rushing him. At the right price, Matt Wieters would be worth the risk. A reunion with old friend Stephen Vogt might also be worth pursuing.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Andrew McCutchen
    Andrew McCutchenMatt Rourke/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Cesar Hernandez
    2. SS Jean Segura
    3. RF Bryce Harper (projected signing)
    4. 1B Rhys Hoskins
    5. LF Andrew McCutchen
    6. 3B Maikel Franco
    7. CF Odubel Herrera
    8. C Jorge Alfaro

         

    Breakout Candidate

    Jorge Alfaro wrapped up his first full season in the majors hitting .262/.324/.407 with 16 doubles, 10 home runs and 37 RBI. The 25-year-old is still capable of quite a bit more offensively, and a significant step forward could be coming in 2019. However, he'll need to continue refining his defensive game to hold onto a starting job. He threw out just 26 percent of base-stealers and allowed an NL-high 10 passed balls while also committing 11 errors.

         

    Position Battle

    If Bryce Harper signs elsewhere, Nick Williams would be the leading candidate to assume the other starting spot in the outfield. Still, that's far from a guarantee given his brutal defensive work (-17 DRS, -15.8 UZR/150) and after he posted a pedestrian 99 OPS+. Super-utility man Scott Kingery, speedster Roman Quinn, slugger Dylan Cozens and 2017 left fielder Aaron Altherr are among the other in-house candidates, and even if Harper is signed, they'll be battling for a bench spot.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Josh Bell
    Josh BellJustin Berl/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Adam Frazier
    2. CF Starling Marte
    3. 1B Josh Bell
    4. LF Corey Dickerson
    5. C Francisco Cervelli/Elias Diaz
    6. 3B Colin Moran
    7. RF Lonnie Chisenhall
    8. SS Erik Gonzalez

         

    Breakout Candidate

    There are several breakout candidates in a Pirates lineup that is getting increasingly younger. That said, the front office seems to really like new shortstop Erik Gonzalez, who was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Indians. The 27-year-old has never hit much at the MLB level with a 79 OPS+ in 162 career games, but he's also never received an extended look beyond a bench role.

         

    Position Battle

    While we've identified Gonzalez as a breakout candidate, there's no guarantee he wins the starting job. The same goes for the versatile Adam Frazier, who is our projected starting second baseman. Those two will be pushed hard by a trio of prospectsKevin NewmanKevin Kramer and Cole Tucker. Newman and Kramer both received a cup of coffee last season, while Tucker might have the highest ceiling of the trio.

San Diego Padres

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    Luis Urias
    Luis UriasDenis Poroy/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Ian Kinsler
    2. SS Luis Urias
    3. C J.T. Realmuto (projected trade)
    4. LF Wil Myers
    5. 1B Eric Hosmer
    6. 3B Mike Moustakas (projected signing)
    7. RF Hunter Renfroe
    8. CF Franchy Cordero/Manuel Margot

         

    Breakout Candidate

    The Padres will likely open the season with Ian Kinsler at second base and Luis Urias at shortstop, and we have them projected to sign Mike Moustakas with a clear hole to fill at third base. That said, the entire infield alignment will be shuffled once Fernando Tatis Jr. gets the call. The 20-year-old shortstop is a superstar in the making and should be ready to make a major impact by midseason. Once he arrives, Urias will move over to second base and Kinsler will slide into a utility role.

         

    Position Battle

    Even with Franmil Reyes sent to Miami in our hypothetical J.T. Realmuto trade, the Padres still have an abundance of outfielders. Wil Myers will fill a corner spot, and Hunter Renfroe showed enough during a 119 OPS+, 26-homer season to warrant regular playing time as well. That leaves some combination of Franchy CorderoManuel Margot and Travis Jankowski to man center field and fill out the bench.

San Francisco Giants

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    Buster Posey
    Buster PoseyLachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Steven Duggar
    2. C Buster Posey
    3. 1B Brandon Belt
    4. 3B Evan Longoria
    5. LF Marwin Gonzalez (projected signing)
    6. SS Brandon Crawford
    7. RF Carlos Gonzalez (projected signing)
    8. 2B Joe Panik

         

    Breakout Candidate

    With an aging core and a strong likelihood that the corner outfield spots will be filled by a pair of free-agent signings, the choices for a breakout candidate in the Giants lineup are limited. Center fielder Steven Duggar hit .272/.354/.421 at Triple-A last season and then posted a 90 OPS+ in 41 games in the majors. He's a safer bet than the free-swinging Chris Shaw to make a legitimate impact in 2019.

         

    Position Battle

    The lingering question right now is who will lineup up on either side of Duggar in the outfield. This makes the Giants an intriguing potential landing spot for Marwin Gonzalez if he prefers an everyday job over the constant shuffling of a super-utility role. Our other projected signing is Carlos Gonzalez, who still had enough left in the tank for a 99 OPS+ and 52 extra-base hits last season. The top in-house options include Chris ShawMac WilliamsonAustin Slater and Rule 5 pick Drew Ferguson.

Seattle Mariners

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    Mitch Haniger
    Mitch HanigerStephen Brashear/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Mallex Smith
    2. RF Mitch Haniger
    3. 3B Kyle Seager
    4. 1B Edwin Encarnacion
    5. LF Domingo Santana
    6. DH Jay Bruce
    7. C Omar Narvaez
    8. SS J.P. Crawford
    9. 2B Dee Gordon

         

    Breakout Candidate

    There's a good chance the Mariners will trade Edwin Encarnacion between now and July 31, as the slugger is in the final year of his contract and Seattle is not expected to contend. If and when he is moved, the door will open for prospect Evan White to take over at first base. The 22-year-old lacks prototypical power but looks to have enough hit tool and plate discipline to make up for it after posting a .300/.371/.453 line with 47 extra-base hits.

         

    Position Battle

    A change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered for J.P. Crawford. After being handed the starting shortstop job following the trade of Freddy Galvis last offseason, Crawford hit a disappointing .214/.319/.393 over 138 plate appearances in an injury-plagued season. His top-prospect pedigree was enough for the Mariners to ask for him in the Jean Segura trade, and he still has the tools to be an everyday shortstop. First, he'll need to beat out free-agent signing Tim Beckham this spring.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Matt Carpenter
    Matt CarpenterMatt Marton/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 3B Matt Carpenter
    2. RF Jose Martinez
    3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt
    4. LF Marcell Ozuna
    5. SS Paul DeJong
    6. C Yadier Molina
    7. CF Harrison Bader
    8. 2B Kolten Wong

         

    Breakout Candidate

    The Cardinals got a taste of what Harrison Bader can do during a dynamic rookie season last year. The 24-year-old posted a 106 OPS+ with 20 doubles, 12 home runs and 15 steals and backed it up with phenomenal defense in center field (11 DRS, 20.1 UZR/150). He has game-changing speed and surprising raw power, which could make him a sneaky 20/20 threat.

         

    Position Battle

    What are the Cardinals going to do with Jose Martinez? The 30-year-old can rake, but he's a liability defensively, and the addition of Paul Goldschmidt makes it harder to hide that fact. Even if he's traded before the season starts, there would still be a position battle in right field between high-priced Dexter Fowler and former top prospect Tyler O'Neill who has nothing left to prove in the minors after posting a 1.078 OPS with 26 home runs in 64 games at Triple-A.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Tommy Pham
    Tommy PhamTony Dejak/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Kevin Kiermaier
    2. 3B Matt Duffy
    3. 2B Joey Wendle
    4. LF Tommy Pham
    5. DH Avisail Garcia
    6. 1B Yandy Diaz/Ji-Man Choi
    7. SS Willy Adames
    8. C Mike Zunino
    9. RF Austin Meadows

         

    Breakout Candidate

    Mandy Bell of MLB.com explained Tampa Bay's interest in Yandy Diaz—who cost former top prospect Jake Bauers to acquire—as follows: "Of 504 players over the last two seasons—those who've made contact at least 100 times—Aaron Judge's 54.6-percent hard-hit rate is No. 1. Diaz ranks 19th at 47.6 percent. So why has Diaz hit one home run in 265 at-bats? Because he has the eighth-lowest launch angle and 25th-highest ground-ball rate. If the Rays can get him to elevate the ball, they could have a star."

    Certainly sounds like a potential breakout candidate.

         

    Position Battle

    At some point, Nate Lowe is going to push his way into the picture for the Rays. The 23-year-old hit .330/.416/.568 with 32 doubles, 27 home runs and 102 RBI over three minor league levels last season, closing out the year at Triple-A. With a first-base-only defensive profile, his arrival could mean a lesser role for someone like Avisail GarciaAustin Meadows, Ji-Man Choi or the aforementioned Diaz, depending on how things are shuffled. A big spring could put that decision front and center at the start of the season.

Texas Rangers

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    Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor
    Elvis Andrus and Rougned OdorRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. DH Shin-Soo Choo
    2. 2B Rougned Odor
    3. SS Elvis Andrus
    4. RF Nomar Mazara
    5. LF Joey Gallo
    6. 3B Asdrubal Cabrera
    7. 1B Ronald Guzman
    8. CF Delino DeShields Jr.
    9. C Jeff Mathis/Isiah Kiner-Falefa

         

    Breakout Candidate

    Is there another level for Nomar Mazara? The 23-year-old now has three MLB seasons under his belt, and they've all been remarkably similar. He's had an OPS+ between 90 and 95 and exactly 20 home runs in each season. However, he showed a glimpse of what he's capable of when everything is clicking last May when he posted a .979 OPS with 10 home runs and 23 RBI in 29 games. It just feels like there's still another gear.

         

    Position Battle

    The Rangers signed light-hitting Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $6.3 million deal this offseason. While the 35-year-old is a great leader for the pitching staff and a Gold Glove-caliber defender, he hasn't caught more than 73 games since 2011 and he's a career .198 hitter. Utility man Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 26-year-old prospect Jose Trevino and Jett Bandy are among the other in-house options. It might be wise to explore an outside addition.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Justin Smoak
    Justin SmoakTom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Billy McKinney
    2. 2B Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
    3. 1B Justin Smoak
    4. DH Kendrys Morales
    5. RF Randal Grichuk
    6. CF Kevin Pillar
    7. C Danny Jansen
    8. SS Freddy Galvis
    9. 3B Brandon Drury

         

    Breakout Candidate

    Just like Eloy Jimenez with the White Sox and Fernando Tatis Jr. with the Padres, financial ramifications are the only thing keeping Vladimir Guerrero Jr. from breaking camp with a starting job. The 19-year-old was a man among boys in the minors last season, hitting .381/.437/.636 with 29 doubles and 20 home runs in 95 games. He's the heavy favorite for AL Rookie of the Year honors and is expected to make an immediate Ronald Acuna Jr./Juan Soto type of impact.

         

    Position Battle

    The signing of Freddy Galvis complicates the Blue Jays middle infield situation. That move was likely made as a result of the poor defensive metrics that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. posted at shortstop (351.1 IP, -9 DRS, -18.0 UZR/150) last season. That means the 25-year-old Gurriel, who posted a 107 OPS+ with 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 65 games as a rookie, will slide over to second base. That leaves the oft-injured but extremely talented Devon Travis on the outside looking in. To say nothing of the impending arrival of prospect Bo Bichette.

Washington Nationals

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    Juan Soto
    Juan SotoKiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Adam Eaton
    2. SS Trea Turner
    3. 3B Anthony Rendon
    4. LF Juan Soto
    5. 2B Brian Dozier
    6. 1B Ryan Zimmerman
    7. C Yan Gomes/Kurt Suzuki
    8. CF Victor Robles

         

    Breakout Candidate

    The Nationals got a breakout season from one of the top outfield prospects in the game last season. It just wasn't the one that everyone expected. An injury to Victor Robles opened the door for Juan Soto when a need arose in the MLB outfield, and he seized the opportunity like few before him. That said, Robles is still one of the game's most exciting young prospects and a potential five-tool superstar in his prime. The departure of Bryce Harper and a clean bill of health gives him a clear path.

         

    Position Battle

    Does a one-year, $9 million investment in Brian Dozier make him a lock to be the everyday second baseman? The Nationals also have veteran Howie Kendrick and utility man Wilmer Difo on the MLB roster, and top prospect Carter Kieboom could be knocking on the door by midseason as the long-term answer at the keystone. Dozier was an excellent roll of the dice on a one-year, prove-it deal, but there are clearly other options if he struggles early.

         

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.