As always, Burning River Baseball will provide you with an up to date view of the Indians' expected 25 man roster. Unlike previous seasons, rather than update this article every time something changes, we will be making a new article for each roster update so you can go back and see how the roster progressed as the off-season went on. Included on this roster will be all players on the 40 man roster, all Spring Training invitees and any minor leaguers who seem like they could make the club. The favorites will be listed on the first line with their competitors listed below. As new additions are made and players are released, sent to the minors, traded or injured, the list will change with new additions and moves on the depth chart in green and removed players listed at the bottom in red. In this initial list, the players listed as removed are those players from last season's final roster who are no longer with the team. From now on, it will just mean that the player is no longer able to win that particular position.
C: Yan Gomes (1)
Other Options: Carlos Santana or Matt Treanor
This is one of the most interesting decisions the Indians will make in Spring Training, but in the end will not be a permanent move. With the lack of players to play DH for the Indians, most likely Santana will be listed as the starter there with Gomes starting at catcher. Treanor has been given a minor league deal and invite to Spring Training, but was never as good in his career as Gomes was in his rookie year.
1B: Nick Swisher (2)
Options: Santana, Jesus Aguilar, David Cooper or Chun Chen
First base is Swisher's almost certainly, but the Indians could use his versatility to use him as right fielder or DH if they needed too. Most likely however, Santana will be the DH and the other options will be in the minor leagues. The Indians offense is definitely strongest with Swisher at first.
2B: Jason Kipnis (3)
Options: Jose Ramirez or Ryan Raburn
If Kipnis isn't traded or injured, he will be the starter. He has been the top player on the team two years in a row. If for some terrible reason he is traded or hurt, Ramirez would be the best option as he is a top defender and has a little Major League experience. Raburn could also be used if necessary, but his top defensive days are behind him.
3B: Lonnie Chisenhall (4)
Options: Mike Aviles, Ryan Rohlinger, Ramirez, Santana or David Adams
Chisenhall is sitting on the edge going into this season. He has a tentative hold on third base, but the Indians did just bring Rohlinger and Adams in on invites largely because they don't believe in him. Aviles will likely get a lot of time at third as well, but his ability to play the other infield positions makes him the obvious utility infielder. There has been a lot of talk about Santana playing third beacuse of his two weeks spent in the Dominican Winter League at the position. There is no possible way he will be able to play third at a Major League level by April, so don't give this much thought.
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera (5)
Options: Aviles, Ramirez, Francisco Lindor
Despite all efforts for the past two years, Cabrera is still an Indian and the default decision for starting short stop. If he is on the team when the season starts he will be the starter, but the Indians have a few options that are almost as good. The problem with Aviles is that he is the perfect utility man, so unless he is replaced there, Ramirez would be a better fit as starter. Of course, what Indians fans really want to see is for Lindor to skip AAA altogether and become the Opening Day starter. This will almost certainly not happen no matter what.
DH Carlos Santana (6)
Options: Jason Giambi, Aguilar, Chen, Carlos Moncrief, Rabun or David Murphy
Santana's ability to play two positions makes him the perfect DH. When Swisher needs a day off, Nick can play DH with Santana playing first and if Gomes needs a day off the same could happen with Santana catching. This situation will allow Santana to play 150 or more games this season while keeping the best possible offense on the field every game. This Indians do have some power coming up through the system and while they won't start in the Majors, Aguilar, Chen and Moncrief all have a good chance of making it at some point this year.
Corner Infield: Mike Aviles (7)
Options: Raburn, Rohlinger, Adams, Cooper, Chisenhall, Ramirez, Aguilar, Chen
Corner Infield is an unfair distinction for Aviles, who is so much more, but he will primarily used as a replacement for Chisenhall on his days off (which may happen more often then not). Since Aviles, Kipnis and Cabrera are all locks for the 25 man roster, the other options listed will have to find some other way to make the big league squad.
C2/Middle Infield/PH/PR: (8)
Options: Treanor, Chen, Chris Wallace, Roberto Perez, Lindor, Erik Gonzalez, Matt Carson or any player listed as corner infield or DH.
Because the Indians' expected DH can catch, the Indians may not carry a third catcher. If they do, it will likely be Treanor, but he wouldn't play even once a week. In the end, catchers are generally the worst hitters and least versatile players on the team, so using this position for another infielder would be a much better fit for the Tribe. This is also the only position that Giambi could possibly make the team with as he can't play a position. It is also the best chance for the group of minor leaguers and invitees including Aguilar, Chen, Rohlinger and Adams. Overall, this will be the most competitive roster spot in Spring Training.
LF: Michael Brantley (9)
Options: Murphy, Raburn, Aviles, Matt Carson
Brantley was one of the Indians best hitters in 2013 and the best fielder. There is nothing that could move him out of left field at this point, barring injury.
CF: Michael Bourn (10)
Options: Brantley, Carson
Similar to Brantley, there is no competition in center field going against Bourn other than trades or injuries.
RF: David Murphy (11)
Options: Raburn, Aviles, Carson, Moncrief
With Drew Stubbs being traded to Colorado, this is the only outfield position with any controversy. Most likely as of now, Murphy will be the starter with Raburn taking the field against left handed pitching. If Carson somehow makes the team he could be used as a defensive replacement, but offensively, no current Indians outfielder (other than Bourn and Brantley who already have starting positions) can come close to either Raburn or Murphy.
OF4: Ryan Raburn (12)
Options: Aviles, Carson, Moncrief
Raburn will obviously make the team, but his exact position is still unknown, making this the most obvious place. That being said, Moncrief is an exciting young talent who could bring some power to the team if he could make the roster as an extra outfielder.
Ace: Justin Masterson (13)
Options: Danny Salazar or Corey Kluber
Barring injury, trade, or free agent signing, Masterson is the obvious ace. If the Dolans start making it rain in an effort to bring in a new starter, they could possibly be added to the front of the rotation, but otherwise, Masterson is the man.
SP2: Corey Kluber (14)
Options: Salazar, Zach McAllister
The Indians have three fairly equal choices for second starter in the rotation, but the edge should go to Kluber. He has more experience than Salazar and has had better results than McAllister over the last two years. He is also a good pitcher to break up Masterson and McAllister in the rotation to keep the heavy sinker pitchers separated.
SP3: Danny Salazar (15)
All three pitchers from two through four could be interchanged in any spot and there really is no outside competition to push any of the three out of the rotation. Salazar would be a good number three starter, protected from facing other team's top starters, but still given a chance to make 30 starts and finish becoming the super star he will be soon.
SP4: Zach McAllister (16)
McAllister has been a very consistent starter over the past two seasons and will be a major part of the rotation again in 2014. Like Salazar and Kluber, he could be thrown in any of the middle three spots in the rotation.
SP5: Shaun Marcum (17)
Options: Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer or Carlos Carrasco
Marcum was a recent pick-up and was just signed to a minor league deal, but he is the default selection for fifth starter. In a similar situation returning from injury, Tomlin will look to make his triumphant return to the Majors. All four real options for the Indians hold huge risks, but they all have a chance at being great as well. If Bauer doesn't make up a major part of the pitching staff soon, the Indians will have to start looking at the Shin-Soo Choo trade as a failure since they have already given up on Stubbs and lost Albers.
CP: John Axford (18)
Options: Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, C.C. Lee, Matt Capps or Vinnie Pestano
The Indians wouldn't have brought Axford in if he wasn't going to close, so close he shall. If he should struggle, however, the Indians have quite a few internal options so a closer-by-committee would be very possible.
SU1: Cody Allen (19)
Allen was the Indians top reliever last season, despite what Joe Smith's new salary may be. He was used more often than all, but one other pitcher in the American League and he is the prime candidate to take over Smith's eighth inning role. While he isn't the only candidate for the job, he is the best suited. The rest of the bullpen options will be listed in the "Bullpen 7" position.
SU2: Bryan Shaw (20)
The decline of Pestano and the departure of Smith and Matt Albers left a couple holes in the bullpen and Shaw will definitely advance because of them. He is easily the second best right handed pitcher in the bullpen and is the best option for a seventh inning righty.
LHRP: Josh Outman (21)
Options: Marc Rzepczynski, Scott Barnes, Nick Hagadone or Mike Zagurksi
The Indians have a ton of options for their left handed specialist and are most likely to keep at least two on staff. Outman is listed as the top LHRP, because he is unable to pitch against right handed hitters. He will almost certainly make the team after he was the only thing brought back in the Drew Stubbs trade and this is his only real place of value.
RHRP: C.C. Lee (22)
Lee is the most likely pitcher in the bullpen to become a superstar closer in the future, but for now, he needs a little more experience. He should be able to get this as a right handed specialist in 2014. He is not quite dependable enough to be used in the late innings, but facing mostly right handed hitters and getting innings during blow outs and early in games should be just what he needs.
BP6: Marc Rzepczynski (23)
Zip made the Indians forget about the useless Rich Hill as an amazing left handed specialist. He will likely be used for late inning match-ups with left handers, but Terry Francona shouldn't be afraid to use him against right handers. While Allen was the most used pitcher in 2013, his new role will likely lead to a decrease in playing time, but an increase in importance. Zip is most likely to take over than mantle since he will be able to be used in so many situations.
BP7: Vinnie Pestano (24)
Options: Capps, Colt Hynes, Preston Guilmet, Frank Herrmann, T.J. House, Blake Wood, Bryan Price, Austin Adams, JC Ramirez, Tyler Cloyd, Tyler Sturdevant, Giovanni Soto, Jose Flores, Cody Anderson, or any other pitcher listed on this page or in the Indians minor league system.
The Indians have a ton of options for the general bullpen positions for next season and a quality Spring Training will largely determine who gets this last spot. Vinnie Pestano deserves to be the front runner for his two great years prior to last season's fall. Without the injuries or the World Baseball Classic, there is no reason to think that he won't be able to return to form. Of the rest of the pitchers listed, the Indians are likely to make use of at least Herrmann, Guilmet, House, Wood and Hagadone at some point.
Long Relief/Extra Bat: Josh Tomlin (25)
Options: Any player listed as an option anywhere who doesn't make the team in some other capacity.
For almost the entire season last year, Terry Francona preferred to have an eight man bullpen, at times having an extra starter as well, giving the Tribe 14 pitchers and just 11 hitters. Since it is expected that he will continue this next season, the Indians will most likely carry an eighth relief pitcher. Tomlin or Bauer would be good choices as it would allow them to be on the roster and pitch at the Major League level, ready to take over any extra starts if the need arises. This is also likely Carrasco's only chance at making the team in any capacity.
Removed: Ubaldo Jimenez, Joe Smith, Matt Albers, Scott Kazmir, Chris Perez, Drew Stubbs, Jason Kubel, Kelly Shoppach, Clay Rapada, Lou Marson and Rich Hill