MLB State of the Position 2020: Every Team's 5-Year Plan at Shortstop
There is a wealth of exciting young shortstop talent around Major League Baseball right now, and plenty more is on the way, including the consensus top prospect in the sport.
That said, some teams are better positioned for current and future success at the position than others.
Ahead we've broken down each team's present and future outlook at shortstop, highlighting their current starter and their top prospect, followed by a prediction for who will man the position for each of the next five seasons.
Think of it as the team's five-year plan at the position.
Present: Nick Ahmed (Age: 30)
Defensive standout Nick Ahmed signed a four-year, $32.5 million extension in February after winning his second straight Gold Glove Award in 2019.
He also set career highs in hits (141), home runs (19), RBI (82), runs scored (79) and OPS+ (93) last year, and he has racked up an impressive 76 DRS at shortstop in six MLB seasons. His 8.7 WAR over the past two seasons ranks seventh among all shortstops.
Future: Geraldo Perdomo (Tier 1 prospect)
Signed for just $70,000 as part of the 2016 international class, Geraldo Perdomo hit .275/.397/.364 with 27 extra-base hits and 26 steals as a 19-year-old between Single-A and High-A last year. He followed that up by batting .316 with an .834 OPS over 97 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League.
With standout defensive skills, plus speed and an advanced hit tool, he checks all the boxes to be an everyday shortstop. His breakout season was also a big reason the front office felt comfortable trading fellow top prospect Jazz Chisholm last summer. He could be MLB-ready by 2023.
Other notable prospects: Blaze Alexander (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Ahmed (2020-23), Perdomo (2024)
Present: Dansby Swanson (Age: 26)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Dansby Swanson hit .270/.330/.493 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI during the first half last season, teasing a breakout performance before injuries derailed him after the All-Star break.
While he continues to search for offensive consistency, he has developed into a plus defender at shortstop with 12 DRS over the past two seasons. He was arbitration-eligible for the first time this past winter and is under team control through the 2022 season.
Future: Braden Shewmake (Tier 3 prospect)
The Braves chose Braden Shewmake with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2019 draft and put him on the fast track in his pro debut, promoting him to Double-A for 14 games to close out the season.
Despite his tall 6'4" frame, he has the defensive tools to stick at shortstop, and he could break into the majors in a utility role by 2022. That could serve as an audition for the starting shortstop job in 2023.
Other notable prospects: Vaughn Grissom (Tier 3), Beau Philip (Tier 3), AJ Graffanino (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Swanson (2020-22), Shewmake (2023-24)
Present: Jose Iglesias (Age: 30)
The Orioles signed Jose Iglesias to a one-year, $2.5 million deal during the offseason to plug the hole at shortstop, and the contract includes a $3.5 million club option for the 2021 season.
The defensive-minded veteran made good on a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds last season and wound up filling an everyday role. He posted an 85 OPS+ with a career-high 11 home runs in 530 plate appearances during a 1.4-WAR season.
Last year's Rule 5 pick, Richie Martin, is also in the mix for playing time.
Future: Gunnar Henderson (Tier 2 prospect)
Behind only Bobby Witt Jr. and CJ Abrams among prep shortstops in the 2019 draft class, Henderson was somewhat surprisingly still on the board when the Orioles picked at No. 42 overall. He has an advanced hit tool and some intriguing power potential but could eventually move to third base once he fills out physically.
If that's the case, 2017 second-round pick Adam Hall could be the long-term answer. He signed an above-slot $1.3 million bonus and has solid tools across the board aside from his middling power. This year's No. 30 overall pick, Jordan Westburg, is also one to watch if he can reach his offensive ceiling.
Other notable prospects: Jordan Westburg (Tier 3), Adam Hall (Tier 3), Cadyn Grenier (Tier 3), Darell Hernaiz (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Iglesias (2020-21), FA signing (2022), Hall (2023), Henderson (2024)
Boston Red Sox
Present: Xander Bogaerts (Age: 27)
The Red Sox signed Xander Bogaerts to a six-year, $120 million extension prior to the 2019 season, and he rewarded them with the best numbers of his career, hitting .309/.384/.555 for a 140 OPS+ with 52 doubles, 33 home runs, 117 RBI and 110 runs scored in a 5.9-WAR season.
The two-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger winner can opt out of his contract after the 2022 season, which would mean leaving $60 million on the table to enter free agency ahead of his age-30 campaign. That will be an interesting decision for a bona fide star.
Future: Matthew Lugo (Tier 3 prospect)
C.J. Chatham is the most MLB-ready shortstop prospect in the Boston system, but he profiles best in a utility role at the MLB level due to his lack of offensive upside.
According to MLB.com, Matthew Lugo has the "best all-around tools of the system's young middle-infield prospects" after going No. 69 overall in the 2019 draft. There's intriguing power potential in his 6'1", 185-pound frame, and he has the first-step quickness to stick at shortstop.
Other notable prospects: C.J. Chatham (Tier 3), Brainer Bonaci (Tier 3), Antoni Flores (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Bogaerts (2020-24)
Present: Javier Baez (Age: 27)
Javier Baez made a legitimate run at NL MVP honors in 2018, hitting .290/.326/.554 with 34 home runs and an NL-leading 111 RBI in a 5.8-WAR season to finish runner-up to Christian Yelich.
His offensive numbers dipped a bit last year, but he still managed a career-high 6.0 WAR thanks to a staggering 26 DRS that tied for the lead among shortstops.
Simply put, he's one of the most dynamic all-around players in baseball, and locking him up long-term should be a top priority for the Cubs with free agency looming after the 2021 season.
Future: Ed Howard (Tier 2 prospect)
The Cubs are likely going to make every effort to re-sign Baez before he hits the open market, but if he does end up walking, there's a good chance they found his replacement in local prep star Ed Howard during the 2020 draft.
The Chicago native went No. 16 overall and was widely regarded as the best defensive shortstop in the class. If his bat catches up to his glove, which looks like a very real possibility after a strong showing on the showcase circuit last summer, he'll be a star.
Other notable prospects: Zack Short (Tier 3), Aramis Ademan (Tier 3), Kevin Made (Tier 3), Rafael Morel (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Baez (2020-24)
Chicago White Sox
Present: Tim Anderson (Age: 26)
Tim Anderson hit .335 to win the AL batting title last season, and he added 32 doubles, 18 home runs and 17 steals in a 3.7-WAR season.
That said, an unsustainable .399 BABIP makes him a clear regression candidate, and his lack of on-base ability (15 walks, 2.9 walk percentage) and poor defense (minus-12 DRS, minus-11.7 UZR/150) mean the bulk of his value was tied up in his inflated batting average.
The White Sox have him signed to a team-friendly deal through 2022 with club options in 2023 ($12.5M) and 2024 ($14M). Even with regression to his 2018 level of production, that could be an appealing price tag.
Future: Yolbert Sanchez (Tier 3 prospect)
There is nothing resembling a viable long-term replacement in the farm system right now if the White Sox were to move on from Anderson after the 2022 season.
Yolbert Sanchez was signed for $2.5 million last July, and he had some success in Cuba where he was Luis Robert's teammate on the 18-and-under national team. The 23-year-old is MLB-ready with the glove, but there are significant questions about whether he'll hit enough to be an everyday player.
Other notable prospects: Jose Rodriguez (Tier 3), Lenyn Sosa (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Anderson (2020-24)
Present: Freddy Galvis (Age: 30)
The Cincinnati Reds claimed Freddy Galvis off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays in August and then exercised a $5.5 million option to bring him back for the 2020 season.
A plus defender (four DRS in 2019) with sneaky pop (career-high 23 home runs in 2019), Galvis is a solid stopgap option, but he's nothing more than that for a Reds team on the rise.
Future: Jose Garcia (Tier 2 prospect)
Garcia, 22, quietly put together a breakout season at the High-A level last year when he hit .280/.343/.436 with 46 extra-base hits and 15 steals in 104 games. The Reds gave him a $5 million bonus as part of the 2017 international class.
While he has a chance to be an everyday shortstop if he can build off last year's success, expect the Reds to be aggressive on the free-agent market with guys like Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Javier Baez and others all ticketed for free agency in the near future. If they're going to make a splash, this looks like the spot to do it.
Other notable prospects: Ivan Johnson (Tier 3), Yan Contreras (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Galvis (2020), Garcia (2021), FA signing (2022-24)
Present: Francisco Lindor (Age: 26)
It's all but a foregone conclusion that the Cleveland Indians will not be able to afford Francisco Lindor when he hits free agency after the 2021 season.
A four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, he has posted a 119 OPS+ and 27.6 WAR in just five MLB seasons, and there's a strong case to be made that he's the best all-around shortstop in baseball. Will he be traded between now and the 2021-22 offseason?
Future: Tyler Freeman (Tier 1 prospect)
Tyler Freeman is a .319/.379/.441 hitter over parts of three minor league seasons, showing good wheels, gap power and the defensive chops to stick at shortstop. He'll never hit for much power, but he looks like a future MLB starter at the position.
Further down the system, Brayan Rocchio hit .335/.390/.442 with 18 extra-base hits and 22 steals over 60 games in rookie ball in 2018 before holding his own as an 18-year-old at Low-A last year. He's still a long way off, but his upside is significant.
Other notable prospects: Brayan Rocchio (Tier 2), Carson Tucker (Tier 3), Gabriel Rodriguez (Tier 3), Angel Martinez (Tier 3), Yordys Valdes (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Lindor (2020-21), Freeman (2022-23), Rocchio (2024)
Present: Trevor Story (Age: 27)
Can the Colorado Rockies afford to sign Trevor Story to a long-term deal after shelling out massive extensions for Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon?
A lot will depend on whether Arenado exercises his opt-out after the 2021 season, leaving five years and $164 million on the table in the process. If he does, that money could easily be re-directed to Story, who reaches free agency for the first time that same offseason.
The 27-year-old has racked up 11.7 WAR the past two seasons, posting a 122 OPS+ while averaging 40 doubles, 36 home runs, 97 RBI, 100 runs scored and 25 steals.
Future: Terrin Vavra (Tier 3 prospect)
A third-round pick out of the University of Minnesota in 2018, Vavra has quickly established himself as the best middle infield prospect in the Colorado system.
He hit .318/.409/.489 with 32 doubles, 10 home runs and 18 steals at Single-A last year, and while there are questions about his long-term defensive home, there is at least a chance he sticks at shortstop. Big picture, he might wind up in a similar role to Garrett Hampson.
Other notable prospects: Adael Amador (Tier 3), Eddy Diaz (Tier 3), Ezequiel Tovar (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Story (2020-21), Vavra (2022-24)
Present: Niko Goodrum (Age: 28)
The Tigers currently have utility man Niko Goodrum penciled in as their starting shortstop, and they also brought back veteran Jordy Mercer on a minor league deal after he handled the position in 2019.
Neither of them represents more than a stopgap option.
Future: Willi Castro (Tier 2 prospect)
Acquired from the Indians at the 2018 trade deadline in exchange for Leonys Martin, Castro took a significant step forward in 2019 to emerge as the potential shortstop of the future.
The 23-year-old hit .301/.366/.467 with 28 doubles, eight triples and 11 home runs in 119 games at Triple-A before making his MLB debut in August. He still has work to do defensively to avoid a shift to second base, but he looks like a future everyday player in some capacity.
Other notable prospects: Wenceel Perez (Tier 3), Adinso Reyes (Tier 3), Trei Cruz (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Goodrum (2020), Castro (2021-24)
Present: Carlos Correa (Age: 25)
The Houston Astros may ultimately need to decide between extending center fielder George Springer and shortstop Carlos Correa. Springer is a free agent this coming winter. Correa hits the open market following the 2021 season.
While he has posted a 129 OPS+ and been worth an impressive 24.5 WAR in his brief MLB career, Correa has managed to stay healthy enough to play more than 110 games just once in the last four years.
That will be a factor when it comes time to make a long-term financial commitment.
Future: Freudis Nova (Tier 2 prospect)
MLB.com wrote: "Nova has the highest ceiling of any position player in Houston's system and has drawn comparisons to Hanley Ramirez and Edgar Renteria."
He hit a modest .259/.301/.369 with 24 extra-base hits and 10 steals in 75 games at Single-A last year, but he didn't turn 20 years old until after the season, so he's still well ahead of the curve. The defensive tools are there, and the offensive upside is undeniable.
Jeremy Pena is also one to watch after he hit .303/.385/.440 in his full-season debut. He might fit best in a super-utility role.
Other notable prospects: Jeremy Pena (Tier 2), Grae Kessinger (Tier 3), Dauri Lorenzo (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Correa (2020-24)
Kansas City Royals
Present: Adalberto Mondesi (Age: 24)
Adalberto Mondesi showed a lot of exciting tools last season. He stole 43 bases, led the AL with 10 triples and graded out as a stellar defender at shortstop (eight DRS, 11.7 UZR/150).
However, he also walked just 19 times all year en route to an ugly .291 on-base percentage. That's not going to cut it going forward.
He's still young, and he'll be given ample opportunities to improve thanks to his speed and defense, but he is going to have a tough time holding off the potential future face of the franchise unless he makes significant strides.
Future: Bobby Witt Jr. (Tier 1 prospect)
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Witt is a rare five-tool talent at the shortstop position with the requisite hit tool, power, speed and defense to be a superstar.
The position will be cleared for him once he's deemed MLB-ready. With baseball bloodlines and strong intangibles, he should move quicker than the average prep prospect, but there's also no reason to rush him. A 2023 arrival seems realistic.
Other notable prospects: Nick Loftin (Tier 3), Brady McConnell (Tier 3), Jeison Guzman (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Mondesi (2020-22), Witt (2023-24)
Los Angeles Angels
Present: Andrelton Simmons (Age: 30)
Andrelton Simmons is a four-time Gold Glove winner and arguably the best all-around defensive player of his generation. With so much of his value tied to his glove, the drop-off will be steep once he loses a step, but there has been no indication of that to this point.
The 30-year-old is a free agent at the end of the season, and while it's always risky to invest in a shortstop exiting his prime, a shorter two- or three-year deal might make sense for both sides. Expect the Angels to make a strong push to keep him around.
Future: Jeremiah Jackson (Tier 2 prospect)
A second-round pick in 2018, Jackson crushed rookie ball pitching last season, posting a .939 OPS with 14 doubles, 23 home runs and 60 RBI in 65 games. He also struck out 96 times in 291 plate appearances, and there is a good chance he will eventually need to slide over to second base.
In terms of the gap between floor and ceiling, his is as wide as any middle infield prospect in baseball. Still, he's the best bet to be the long-term answer at shortstop in a system with several intriguing low-level options.
Other notable prospects: Kyren Paris (Tier 3), Arol Vera (Tier 3), Livan Soto (Tier 3), Leonardo Rivas (Tier 3), Adrian Placencia (Tier 3), Jose Bonilla (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Simmons (2020-23), Jackson (2024)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Present: Corey Seager (Age: 26)
Corey Seager bounced back from a 2018 season lost to Tommy John surgery to hit .272/.335/.483 with 19 home runs, 87 RBI, 82 runs and an NL-leading 44 doubles last season.
The 2016 NL Rookie of the Year has been worth 15.7 WAR in what basically amounts to three full MLB seasons' worth of action, and he is part of a long list of shortstops set to hit free agency after the 2021 campaign.
With a viable in-house replacement, will the Dodgers instead prefer to spend the money it would take to extend him on the pitching staff?
Future: Gavin Lux (Tier 1 prospect)
Gavin Lux is currently penciled into the starting second base job, and that figures to be where he plays as long as Seager is still around. But he was drafted as a shortstop.
MLB.com wrote: "He has the quickness, soft hands and solid arm strength for shortstop and last season ironed out some longstanding issues with throwing accuracy."
If the Dodgers let Seager walk and don't make a play for someone like Lindor to replace him, Lux looks like the long-term answer.
Other notable prospects: Jacob Amaya (Tier 3), Alex De Jesus (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Seager (2020-21), Lux (2022-24)
Present: Miguel Rojas (Age: 31)
The Miami Marlins signed Miguel Rojas to a two-year, $10.25 million extension following a 2019 season in which he hit .284/.331/.379 with 35 extra-base hits in 132 games.
While he's unlikely to be part of the next contending Marlins team, he is a perfectly acceptable stopgap option for the time being. The veteran has quietly been worth 4.9 WAR over the last three years.
Future: Jazz Chisholm (Tier 1 prospect)
The Marlins acquired Chisholm from the D-backs last summer in exchange for controllable starter Zac Gallen, and his loud raw tools make him one of the most exciting prospects in a vastly improved farm system.
The 22-year-old hit just .220 with a 32.1 percent strikeout rate last season, but he also slugged 21 home runs and swiped 16 bases while improving his walk rate (7.8 to 11.4 percent) and showing strong defensive skills. There's a good deal of volatility in his long-term outlook, but he has huge upside.
Other notable prospects: Jose Devers (Tier 3), Nasim Nunez (Tier 3), Osiris Johnson (Tier 3), Jose Salas (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Rojas (2020-21), Chisholm (2022-24)
Present: Luis Urias (Age: 23)
Orlando Arcia struggled to a .223/.283/.350 line and 64 OPS+ last season en route to minus-0.3 WAR, and the 25-year-old may be out of chances to seize the starting shortstop job.
Former top prospect Luis Urias was acquired from the San Diego Padres during the offseason, and he looked like the favorite to break camp with the shortstop job.
The 23-year-old failed to impress in his first extended MLB action last year, but he has a strong track record of hitting in the minors with a .308/.397/.433 line in 2,401 plate appearances. If everything clicks, he could be the team's leadoff hitter.
Future: Brice Turang (Tier 2 prospect)
Turang, 20, was the No. 21 overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .256/.367/.340 with 28 extra-base hits and 30 steals in 129 games between Single-A and High-A in his first full pro season last year, tallying 83 walks and a 14.7 percent walk rate. He's a tough one to peg long-term, but there's clear upside.
Eduardo Garcia is one to watch in the lower levels of the minors after signing for $1.1 million as part of the 2018 international class.
Other notable prospects: Eduardo Garcia (Tier 3), Freddy Zamora (Tier 3), Hayden Cantrelle (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Urias (2020-22), Turang (2023-24)
Present: Jorge Polanco (Age: 26)
Jorge Polanco started the All-Star Game last year when he hit .295/.356/.485 with 40 doubles, 22 home runs, 79 RBI and 107 runs scored in a 4.8-WAR season.
The Minnesota Twins inked Polanco to a team-friendly five-year, $25.75 million extension prior to the 2019 season, and it includes club options for 2024 ($10.5M) and 2025 ($12M). A strong follow-up performance would cement his place as the team's long-term shortstop.
Future: Royce Lewis (Tier 1 prospect)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Lewis quickly shot up top prospect rankings with an impressive 2018 season before falling back to earth a bit with a .236/.290/.371 line in 566 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A last year.
He rebounded with a .353/.411/.565 line and 12 extra-base hits over 22 games in the Arizona Fall League, and all the pieces are there for him to be a future star. That said, he could eventually move to center field, which would allow him and Polanco to co-exist in the same lineup.
Other notable prospects: Keoni Cavaco (Tier 2), Wander Javier (Tier 3), Nick Gordon (Tier 3), Will Holland (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Polanco (2020-24)
New York Mets
Present: Amed Rosario (Age: 24)
Amed Rosario hit .287/.323/.432 with 52 extra-base hits and 19 steals in a breakout offensive season last year, solidifying himself as a long-term piece for the Mets.
But will he stay at shortstop?
The Mets toyed with the idea of shifting him to center field last year, and the defensive metrics (minus-32 DRS, minus-2.1 UZR/150) have not been kind to his work at shortstop in his three MLB seasons.
Future: Ronny Mauricio (Tier 1 prospect)
Ronny Mauricio turned 19 years old on April 4, and he already has a full season at the Single-A level under his belt.
Signed for $2.1 million as part of the 2017 international class, he has a 50-grade hit tool and 60-grade power, and there is no question he will be able to stick at shortstop. The best bet for the Mets might be to continue dealing with Rosario's defensive shortcomings until Mauricio is ready, then shift him to center field to get both dynamic young players into the lineup.
Other notable prospects: Andres Gimenez (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Rosario (2020-22), Mauricio (2023-24)
New York Yankees
Present: Gleyber Torres (Age: 23)
With Didi Gregorius moving on in free agency, Gleyber Torres is now the everyday shortstop for the New York Yankees after spending the bulk of his time at second base in his first two MLB seasons.
He hit .278/.337/.535 with 38 home runs and 90 RBI last year, and he is still just scratching the surface of his vast potential. Under team control through the 2024 season, count on him wearing pinstripes for the foreseeable future.
Thairo Estrada also gives the team a useful utility piece who can start at shortstop in a pinch.
Future: Oswald Peraza (Tier 3 prospect)
The trio of Oswald Peraza (20 years old), Anthony Volpe (19 years old) and Alexander Vargas (18 years old) all still have a long way to go before they are knocking on the MLB door, but all three have future everyday-player potential if everything clicks.
For now, Peraza looks like the best of the bunch. He has a strong feel for hitting with a 55-grade hit tool, plus speed, a strong arm and smooth actions at shortstop.
Other notable prospects: Anthony Volpe (Tier 3), Alexander Vargas (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Torres (2020-24)
Present: Marcus Semien (Age: 29)
Marcus Semien averaged 2.9 WAR as a solid everyday shortstop during his first four seasons with the Oakland Athletics before taking his game up a notch in 2019.
He hit .285/.369/.522 for a 138 OPS+ with 43 doubles, 33 home runs, 92 RBI and 123 runs scored, finishing third in AL MVP voting in a 8.9-WAR season.
Free agency awaits this coming offseason. Will the cost-conscious Athletics make him a priority?
Future: Nick Allen (Tier 2 prospect)
Defensive-minded Nick Allen took some positive steps toward showing he has enough offensive game to be an everyday player in 2019, hitting .292/.363/.434 with 30 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 72 games at High-A. He at least gives the team a viable long-term contingency plan if Semien walks.
Robert Puason received the same $5.1 million bonus that the uber-hyped Jasson Dominguez received from the Yankees during the 2019 international free-agency window. The 17-year-old is a long way off, but he has considerable raw tools.
Other notable prospects: Robert Puason (Tier 2), Jorge Mateo (Tier 3), Logan Davidson (Tier 3), Jeremy Eierman (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Semien (2020-24)
Present: Didi Gregorius (Age: 30)
The Philadelphia Phillies did not necessarily need a shortstop heading into last offseason, but they jumped at the chance to add bounce-back candidate Didi Gregorius on a one-year, $14 million deal.
In his return from Tommy John surgery last year, he hit .238/.276/.441 for an 87 OPS+. However, in the three years prior, he had a 108 OPS+ while averaging 27 doubles, 24 home runs, 81 RBI and 3.8 WAR.
Veteran Jean Segura was the team's everyday shortstop in 2019, and he could wind up moving back to the position in 2021. His current contract runs through the 2022 season with a club option for 2023, and 905 of his 1,047 MLB games have come at shortstop.
Future: Bryson Stott (Tier 2 prospect)
Stott was the No. 14 overall pick in the 2019 draft after hitting .356/.486/.599 with 20 doubles, 10 home runs and 16 steals during his junior season at UNLV.
The Phillies put third baseman Alec Bohm on the fast track after drafting him in the first round in 2018, and Stott could follow a similar path thanks to his overall polish and high floor. He looks like a future everyday shortstop who will do a little bit of everything well without a clear standout tool.
Other notable prospects: Luis Garcia (Tier 3), Nick Maton (Tier 3), Casey Martin (Tier 3), Jamari Baylor (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Gregorius (2020), Segura (2021-22), Stott (2023-24)
Present: Kevin Newman (Age: 26)
Kevin Newman emerged from a crowded middle infield picture with a breakout 2019 season, hitting .308/.353/.446 with 38 extra-base hits and 16 steals in 130 games as a rookie.
The Pittsburgh Pirates also have Cole Tucker, Erik Gonzalez and JT Riddle as 40-man roster options with MLB experience at the position, but Newman has separated himself from the pack. If he can lock down the position with a strong follow-up performance, he is under control through the 2024 season.
Future: Oneil Cruz (Tier 1 prospect)
It's not every day you see a 6'7" shortstop.
Oneil Cruz has already stuck at the position longer than expected while emerging as a top-tier prospect. There's still a good chance he winds up moving to third base or the outfield long-term, but that will be as much about roster fit as anything with Newman under control for the next five years.
First-round pick Nick Gonzales will start his pro career at shortstop, but an eventual move to second base seems likely.
Other notable prospects: Liover Peguero (Tier 2)
Five-Year Prediction: Newman (2020-24)
San Diego Padres
Present: Fernando Tatis Jr. (Age: 21)
Fernando Tatis Jr. backed up his top-prospect pedigree as a 20-year-old rookie, hitting .317/.379/.590 with 22 home runs, 16 steals and 4.1 WAR in just 84 games.
He is the present and future face of the franchise and one of the brightest young stars in the game. He has some work to do slowing the game down defensively, but he also makes plays that few others can, and there's no reason to think he'll be moved from shortstop.
Future: CJ Abrams (Tier 1 prospect)
The Padres have an enviable problem in CJ Abrams and his future defensive home.
The No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 draft hit .393/.436/.647 with 24 extra-base hits and 15 steals in 34 games after signing last spring, and his 60-grade hit tool and top-of-the-scale speed give him impact table-setter potential.
He would be the shortstop of the future in almost any other franchise, but he'll likely need to move to second base or center field to share a lineup with Tatis.
Other notable prospects: Gabriel Arias (Tier 3), Owen Miller (Tier 3), Jake Cronenworth (Tier 3), Reggie Preciado (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Tatis Jr. (2020-24)
San Francisco Giants
Present: Brandon Crawford (Age: 33)
The days of Brandon Crawford being an All-Star-caliber shortstop are a thing of the past.
Unfortunately for the rebuilding San Francisco Giants, he is still owed another $15.2 million in 2021 before reaching free agency, and after he struggled to a 75 OPS+ and 0.2 WAR in 147 games last year, his days as a viable everyday player appear to be behind him.
Similar struggles going forward could lead to a reduced role, and rookie Mauricio Dubon looks like the next man up at shortstop. He entered 2020 as the favorite to win the starting second base job, but he's more than capable of handling shortstop defensively, and he's one of the few potential long-term pieces on the current MLB roster.
Future: Marco Luciano (Tier 1 prospect)
The prize of the 2018 international class, Marco Luciano signed for $2.6 million and then shined in his pro debut last year with a .302/.417/.564 line that included 13 doubles, 10 home runs and nine steals in 47 games.
With a 55-grade hit tool and 60-grade power, he looks like a superstar in the making, and he made his stateside debut before his 18th birthday last season.
Will Wilson, the 15th pick in the 2019 draft, was acquired from the Angels in exchange for absorbing Zack Cozart's contract. He doesn't have the highest ceiling, and he might fit best at second base, but he could help bridge the gap to Luciano.
Other notable prospects: Will Wilson (Tier 3), Dilan Rosario (Tier 3), Tyler Fitzgerald (Tier 3), Aeverson Arteaga (Tier 3), Jimmy Glowenke (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Crawford (2020), Dubon (2021-22), Wilson (2023), Luciano (2024)
Present: J.P. Crawford (Age: 25)
How many more chances will J.P. Crawford get to prove he's an everyday MLB shortstop?
A top prospect in the Phillies system before he was traded to Seattle last offseason, he hit .226/.313/.371 for an 87 OPS+ in 396 plate appearances in his first season with the Mariners.
At the moment, there is no one in the organization to push him for playing time.
Future: Noelvi Marte (Tier 1 prospect)
Noelvi Marte hit .309/.371/.511 with 31 extra-base hits and 17 steals in 65 games in rookie ball last year, and his stateside debut in 2020 was going to be one of the most anticipated in all of minor league baseball before the season was halted.
The 18-year-old still has a lot to prove, and he could eventually outgrow shortstop and wind up shifting to third base as his 6'1", 181-pound frame continues to fill out, but for now he's the closest thing the organization has to a shortstop of the future.
Other notable prospects: Juan Querecuto (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Crawford (2020-21), FA signing (2022-24)
St. Louis Cardinals
Present: Paul DeJong (Age: 26)
Not bad for a guy who started his pro career as a third baseman and spent his time in the minors well off the top prospect radar.
The St. Louis Cardinals locked him up with a six-year, $26 million extension after his impressive rookie year in 2017, and a pair of club options could keep him around through the 2025 season.
Future: Masyn Winn (Tier 3 prospect)
The St. Louis farm system is sorely lacking in high-ceiling middle infield talent.
Masyn Winn immediately moves to the top of that list after he was drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft. One of the best two-way prospect in the prep class, he has significant power potential and the defensive profile to handle shortstop long-term.
Other notable prospects: Edmundo Sosa (Tier 3), Mateo Gil (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: DeJong (2020-24)
Tampa Bay Rays
Present: Willy Adames (Age: 24)
Poor Willy Adames.
On most teams, he would be a promising young building block and a potential budding star after he hit 20 home runs and tallied 4.2 WAR in his age-23 season.
For the Tampa Bay Rays, he will inevitably be looking over his shoulder, waiting on the arrival of the consensus top prospect in baseball who just happens to play the same position as him.
Future: Wander Franco (Tier 1 prospect)
With an 80-grade hit tool and a dynamic all-around package of skills, Wander Franco has a chance to be a true generational talent.
He hit .327/.398/.487 with 43 extra-base hits in 495 plate appearances as an 18-year-old between Single-A and High-A last year, showing an approach that belied his age in tallying significantly more walks (56) than strikeouts (35).
The Rays won't rush him, but it's only a matter of time before he forces their hand.
Other notable prospects: Greg Jones (Tier 2), Taylor Walls (Tier 3), Lucius Fox (Tier 3), Alika Williams (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Adames (2020-21), Franco (2022-24)
Present: Elvis Andrus (Age: 31)
Still just 31 years old, Andrus already has 11 MLB seasons under his belt, all of which were spent with the Texas Rangers. The two-time All-Star has racked up 1,723 hits, 302 steals and 30.9 WAR over the course of his career.
He is owed $14.25 million in 2021 and 2022, and he has a $15 million option for 2023 that vests with 550 plate appearances in 2022 or 1,100 total plate appearances in 2021 and 2022.
Future: Anderson Tejeda (Tier 3 prospect)
Anderson Tejeda posted a .770 OPS with 17 doubles, 19 home runs, 74 RBI and 76 runs scored in 121 games at High-A in 2018.
Unfortunately, his 2019 was cut short by a dislocated non-throwing shoulder that ended his season after just 43 games, but he's still just 22 years old and has plenty of time to get back on track. His strong arm and quick first step give him a great chance to remain at shortstop long-term.
Other notable prospects: Maximo Acosta (Tier 3), Osleivis Basabe (Tier 3), Luisangel Acuna (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Andrus (2020-22), Tejeda (2023-24)
Toronto Blue Jays
Present: Bo Bichette (Age: 22)
Bo Bichette exploded onto the scene last year with a .311/.358/.571 line for a 144 OPS+ and a staggering 29 extra-base hits in 46 games.
He also graded out well at shortstop, tallying 4 DRS in 361.2 innings, quieting some of the concerns that he may need to shift to second base or third base in the future. With team control through 2025, he's a cornerstone piece of the Toronto Blue Jays future plans.
Future: Austin Martin (Tier 1 prospect)
The Blue Jays have a pair of Tier 1 shortstop prospects in 2020 first-round pick Austin Martin and 2018 first-round pick Jordan Groshans, but neither player is a lock to stick at the position.
Groshans lacks the necessary first-step quickness and profiles better at third base, while Martin spent the bulk of his time at Vanderbilt playing third base and center field.
Assuming Bichette locks down the position for the foreseeable future, they would have needed to move anyway, but adding to their defensive versatility now by continuing to develop them at the position will only add to their future value.
Other notable prospects: Jordan Groshans (Tier 1), Orelvis Martinez (Tier 2), Miguel Hiraldo (Tier 3), Otto Lopez (Tier 3), Leonadro Jimenez (Tier 3), Kevin Smith (Tier 3), Estiven Machado (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Bichette (2020-24)
Present: Trea Turner (Age: 26)
Trea Turner hit .298/.353/.497 for a 113 OPS+ while tallying 35 steals, 37 doubles and 19 home runs in 122 games last season for the World Series champion Washington Nationals.
He has had some injury issues over the course of his career, but when healthy, he's one of the most dynamic speed threats in the game and he has some sneaky power to boot.
The Nationals already have a lot of money on the books, so there's no guarantee that Turner will be around beyond the 2022 season when he will hit free agency for the first time. That said, his potential in-house replacements come with some defensive question marks, so locking him up could be a priority.
Future: Luis Garcia (Tier 2 prospect)
Top prospects Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia have both spent the bulk of their minor league careers playing shortstop.
However, Kieboom was set to replace Anthony Rendon as the starting third baseman before the season was halted, while MLB.com wrote of Garcia that "there's a growing belief that he'll end up at second base long term due to his remaining physical projection" ahead of his age-20 season.
Garcia has a better chance of sticking there long-term, but neither player is a lock.
Other notable prospects: Yasel Antuna (Tier 3), Jackson Cluff (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Turner (2020-24)
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. Contract information via Spotrac. Prospect tiers refer to each player's status in B/R's most recent farm system rankings.