Expected 25 Man Roster (1/14/14)

For the previous edition of the 25 man roster from January 1st, click here. The only major changes are the addition of Jeff Francoeur and Scott Atchison and the removal of some far flung candidates from contention.

Infield
C: Yan Gomes (1)

Other Options: Carlos Santana
While this isn't official and Santana is likely to catch at least 60 games in 2014, Gomes is vastly superior defensively and good enough with his bat to deserve the starting role. The versatility of the two players means that every single game the Indians will have an above average offensive catcher.

1B: Nick Swisher (2)
Options
: Santana or Jesus Aguilar
Similar to the situation at catcher, Swisher will be the starter, but Santana will get quite a few starts at first. Aguilar will not start the season at first, or even on the 25 man roster most likely, but he is likely to make his debut at first in 2014.

2B: Jason Kipnis (3)
Options: Jose Ramirez or Ryan Raburn
If Kipnis isn't traded or injured, he will be the starter as 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 or David Adams
This is the least certain of the infield starters as the Indians upper management have never really believed in Chisenhall and he has not given them any reason lately for them to change their opinion. Aviles will be needed in other roles (as a back-up to Kipnis and Cabrera), so the Indians have brought in other options like Rohlinger and Adams. While Chisenhall has the early advantage, anyone could technically win this award with a big Spring.

SS: Asdrubal Cabrera (5)
Options: Aviles, Ramirez or Francisco Lindor
As long as Cabrera isn't traded he will be the starter, but there is still a small chance of him going somewhere depending on where Stephen Drew signs. If he is moved, Aviles will likely take over the day-to-day role with Ramirez playing short if Aviles is needed elsewhere. Lindor likely won't be a factor for at least a few months.

DH: Carlos Santana (6)
Options: Jason Giambi, Aguilar, Raburn, Jeff Francouer 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.

Corner Infield: Mike Aviles (7)
Options: Raburn, Rohlinger, Adams, David Cooper, Chisenhall, Ramirez, Aguilar, Chun Chen
Corner Infield is an unfair distinction for Aviles, who is so much more, but he will be 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: Jeff Francoeur (8)
Options: Matt 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.

Outfield
LF: Michael Brantley (9)
Options
: Murphy, Raburn, Matt Carson or Francoeur
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. The options are listed for that case only.

CF: Michael Bourn (10)
Options
: Brantley or 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 or Francoeur
There should be a decent competition in camp for this role now that Francoeur has been brought into the mix. Likely, there will be a platoon of sorts in right field with the player that takes the starting role and the fourth outfielder. The right side of the platoon could be represented by Francoeur, Raburn or Carson while the left side will likely be Murphy.

OF4: Ryan Raburn (12)
Options: Aviles, Carson, Carlos Moncrief, Murphy or Francoeur
Due to his guaranteed salary, Raburn will obviously make the team, but his exact position is still unknown. If the right field slot is being used for the left handed half of the platoon, this player is likely to be right handed, which all the options but Moncrief are.

Starting Rotation
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
All four of the remaining starters have an equal shot at the fifth starter role coming into camp, so a good Spring could propel any of them into the rotations while the losers will still have a chance at the bullpen. The Indians are also still looking into other free agent options including bringing back Ubaldo Jimenez.

Bullpen
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 as he can be equally effective. 

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, Scott Atchison 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.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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