Expected 25 Man Roster (3/02/14)

For the last edition of the 25 man roster from the beginning of Spring Training, click here. Major updates this time include changes in the starting rotation competition. From now on, players who have won their position will be listed in blue with no further remarks. New players are listed in green.

C: Yan Gomes (1)

Other Options: Carlos Santana
Yan Gomes will be on the roster and in the lineup on a daily basis, so at this point the only question is will he get more starts at catcher than Santana. This will depend on Santana's ability to play third and willingness to DH.

Carls Santana & Lonnie Chisenhall 1B: Nick Swisher (2)
2B: Jason Kipnis (3)
3B: Lonnie Chisenhall (4)
Options: Mike Aviles, Santana, Ryan Rohlinger, Ramirez or David Adams
Hold back your hate, the Chiz Kid is still the Indians number one option at third base. Of course, things could change, but for right now expect Chisenhall to break camp as the starting third baseman.

SS: Asdrubal Cabrera (5)
Options: Aviles, Ramirez or Francisco Lindor
It certainly seems like Cabrera will start 2014 with the Indians despite trade rumors. If he does, he will be the starting short stop, but Aviles, Ramirez and Lindor will be waiting close by just in case.

DH: Carlos Santana (6)
Options: Jason Giambi, Chisenhall, Jesus Aguilar, Raburn, Jeff Francoeur or David Murphy
Santana really doesn't want this job, but it is hard to see a better place for him to fit. None of the options for this role are significantly better than Chisenhall offensively, so there is little reason to have Santana play third with Chisenhall as DH. Nothing is official yet, but this should be the landing place for Santana.

Corner Infield: Mike Aviles (7)
Options: Raburn, Chisenhall, Rohlinger, Adams, David Cooper, Ramirez, Aguilar, Bryan LaHair, Elliot Johnson or Chun Chen
This job belongs to Aviles (unless he wins a starting role), but there are a couple people who have stuck out early in camp that deserve consideration. David Adams has been working out at third, while Bryan LaHair has been rotating with the starting infield at first. Most impressively, Elliot Johnson has been bouncing all around the infield in an attempt to increase his versatility. He already has played seven different positions in his MLB career, most of them at an above average level. None of these players are strong hitters, however, and that will likely be the deciding factor for the final roster spots.

C2/Middle Infield/PH/PR: Jose Ramirez (8)
Options: Matt Treanor, Chen, Chris Wallace, Roberto Perez, Jake Lowery, Tony Wolters, Luke Carlin, Lindor, Erik Gonzalez, Matt Carson, Nyjer Morgan, Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Moncrief, Tyler Naquin, Joe Wendle, Johnson or any player listed as corner infield, DH or outfield.

Of the players who could be considered for this role, Jose Ramirez is likely the most deserving following his excellent transition from AA to the Majors in 2013, but a thumb injury incurred while sliding headfirst during the Dominican Winter League has forced him into a late start. Because he is behind the rest of camp now, it may be a better idea to go north with one of the minor league free agent signings, like Francoeur, Morgan or Adams, since these players could be lost if not on the 25 man roster.

LF: Michael Brantley (9)

CF: Michael Bourn (10)
RF: David Murphy (11)
Options: Raburn, Aviles, Carson, Jeff Francoeur, LaHair or Morgan
Because of contract situations, both Murphy and Raburn will definitely make the team, the question is just who will be the regular starter and who will make the team as the fourth outfielder.

OF4: Ryan Raburn (12)
Options: Carson, Murphy, Francoeur or Morgan
Last season, Raburn was expected to be a utility infielder that would experiment in right field. This season, he has spent 100% of his practice time working with the outfielders. Because of this, the only two roles Raburn seems eligible for are fourth outfielder or starting right fielder. Right now he is expected to platoon with Murphy, which would mean that Murphy will get more at bats as the left handed hitter. 

Starting Rotation
Ace: Justin Masterson (13)
Options: Danny Salazar or Corey Kluber
Masterson and the Indians avoided arbitration (something that has been more difficult this year than in previous seasons), successfully guaranteeing his role as staff ace. It is still possible the Indians could sign or trade for another starter who could supplant Masterson, but at this point, things are pretty set. The two sides agreed to a $9.7625M, one year deal, a number slightly less than the midway point between the initial two amounts.

SP2: Corey Kluber (14)
: Salazar, Zach McAllister
Last year's number two starter, Ubaldo Jimenez, has just signed a four year deal with the Orioles, so there is no longer any real outside competition for the second through fourth spots in the rotation. As said before, Kluber, Salazar and McAllister will make up the middle of the rotation, the only unknown is the exact order. Likely, match-up strategy and the quality of their March numbers will ultimately make this decision.

SP3: Danny Salazar (15)
Salazar has been taking things very slowly this Spring, with an extra day off between bullpen sessions, in an effort not to burn him out too soon. This should be great for the Tribe as by being careful now, Salazar shouldn't have to worry as much about pitch and innings counts during a play-off run in September.

SP4: Zach McAllister (16)
SP5: Aaron Harang (17)
Options: Shawn Marcum, Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Kyle Davies or the previous three starters.

Things are really heating up now in the competition for the Indians fifth rotation spot as Cleveland has brought a ringer into the fray. Aaron Harang, who Indians fans should remember as the more-often-than-not ace for the Reds from 2004 through 2010, has been brought in with a minor league deal. Harang struggled in 2013 with the Mariners and Mets, but had two great years previous to that with the Padres and Dodgers. Unlike the other contenders for this job, he doesn't come into camp with a lot of extra baggage (injuries, delivery issues or anger problems). He has always been a high strike out, high home run pitcher and his rates didn't change much in 2013 compared to the rest of his career. It is hard to pick a favorite in this race as it is still early and all players are very talented, but Harang has a track record that the rest don't.

An interesting side note to this signing is that, because he was brought in on a minor league deal, Harang would make just $1M during the season if he made the club out of Spring Training. With Josh Tomlin losing his arbitration case, Marcum in camp with on the same deal as Harang and Carrasco not yet arbitration eligible, this means that the highest paid pitcher of those listed above will definitely be Trevor Bauer, no matter who gets the job. Bauer is in the final year of a four year contract he signed when drafted with the Diamondbacks and will be paid $1.83M, despite not being arbitration eligible until 2016.

CP: John Axford (18)
SU1: Cody Allen (19)

On February 19th, Terry Fracona announced that Axford and Allen wouldn't pitch much in Spring Training as their roles have already been determined. This should especially be helpful to Allen, who lead the team in appearances in 2013 as a rookie. By not wasting innings in March, both pitchers should be able to throw a few extra in September.
SU2: Bryan Shaw (20)
LHRP: Josh Outman (21)
Options: Marc Rzepczynski, Scott Barnes, Nick Hagadone or Mike Zagurksi

RHRP: C.C. Lee (22)
Options: The rest of the bullpen options will be listed in the "Bullpen 7" position.
It is a good thing that Axford and Allen will be getting few innings this Spring, because there are a ridiculous amount of relievers in camp for only a few open spots. Essentially, this spot along with the bullpen seven spot are the only places for those pitchers to fit, so the Indians will want to get a good look at everyone to make sure they pick the right pitcher. Most likely, both will be right handed relievers with two left handers already cemented into relief corps. Without seeing much this Spring from anyone yet, Lee looks to be a great option as he is young, under team control for the long term and the cheapest option for his talent level. With five solid veterans already certain as being part of the squad, the Indians have room for an up-and-comer. 

BP6: Marc Rzepczynski (23)
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, David Aardsma, Leandro Linares, Davies, Travis Banwart or any other pitcher listed on this page or in the Indians upper minor league system.

Not much has changed this early in camp, but the Indians have added a few more arms to the starting rotation race, which could effect this and the next roster spot. In general starting pitchers are of a higher quality than relievers and that certainly seems to be the case with players like Harang and Marcum compared to the large group listed above. The Indians made a similar move with the 2013 roster by changing Rich Hill into a full time reliever and it eventually backfired, but all the options for fifth starter are at a significantly better place in their careers than Hill.

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.

As mentioned above, this roster spot will likely be given to one of the players competing for a pitching role in some fashion, but who that will be right now is impossible to tell. Thoughts of the future would force the Indians to use this place for either Tomlin or Carrasco (who are out of options and under team control for years to come), while an emphasis on winning now would focus on using this final place for what the team needs most. If it is another bat, someone like David Cooper, Adams or Jeff Francoeur could be the answer, while if they want more speed, it could be Nyjer Morgan or Jose Ramirez, who would also provide infield versatility. Of course, if Terry Francona and Chris Antonetti want to go another way and add a friend of theirs with no real baseball value, they could use this spot for Giambi.

Who Will Be the First...

Who will be the first voted off…Starter Island?

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since its inception in 2011. He also writes for The Outside Corner and the Comeback and hosts the Tribe Time Now podcast. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians. Follow on twitter @BurningRiverBB