Spring Training Job Battles: Final Update

Spring Training Job Battles: Final Update

This article is part of our Spring Training Job Battles series.

All spring training stats updated through March 25.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Catcher

Carson Kelly and Alex Avila look to be the Diamondbacks' top two catchers, but John Ryan Murphy has made the team as well despite rumors that Arizona would switch back to a conventional two-catcher system. Caleb Joseph was optioned to Triple-A Reno.

Outfield

Steven Souza will need season-ending knee surgery, which clarifies the Diamondbacks' outfield picture. Adam Jones will take over as the primary right fielder, with Ketel Marte now needing to start most games in center.

Fifth starter

Merrill Kelly started spring slowly but got things together to win the final spot in the rotation. His spring stats don't do a lot to instill confidence, however, as he finished with a 4.60 ERA and 10:8 K:BB. Matt Koch and Matt Andriese will head to the bullpen.

Closer

In a surprising move, Greg Holland won the Diamondbacks' closer job despite diminished velocity and a 12.27 spring ERA. Archie Bradley's 6.75 ERA came with a strong 7:1 K:BB, and he still looks like the team's best reliever. If salary concerns are part of the picture, Yoshihisa Hirano, who threw three scoreless innings this spring, could be next in line ahead of Bradley.

Atlanta Braves

Rotation

Mike Foltynewicz (elbow) and Kevin Gausman (shoulder) will each open the season on the injured list, so Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright and Max Fried will all be in the Braves' Opening Day rotation. Wilson will get the ball for the second game

All spring training stats updated through March 25.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Catcher

Carson Kelly and Alex Avila look to be the Diamondbacks' top two catchers, but John Ryan Murphy has made the team as well despite rumors that Arizona would switch back to a conventional two-catcher system. Caleb Joseph was optioned to Triple-A Reno.

Outfield

Steven Souza will need season-ending knee surgery, which clarifies the Diamondbacks' outfield picture. Adam Jones will take over as the primary right fielder, with Ketel Marte now needing to start most games in center.

Fifth starter

Merrill Kelly started spring slowly but got things together to win the final spot in the rotation. His spring stats don't do a lot to instill confidence, however, as he finished with a 4.60 ERA and 10:8 K:BB. Matt Koch and Matt Andriese will head to the bullpen.

Closer

In a surprising move, Greg Holland won the Diamondbacks' closer job despite diminished velocity and a 12.27 spring ERA. Archie Bradley's 6.75 ERA came with a strong 7:1 K:BB, and he still looks like the team's best reliever. If salary concerns are part of the picture, Yoshihisa Hirano, who threw three scoreless innings this spring, could be next in line ahead of Bradley.

Atlanta Braves

Rotation

Mike Foltynewicz (elbow) and Kevin Gausman (shoulder) will each open the season on the injured list, so Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright and Max Fried will all be in the Braves' Opening Day rotation. Wilson will get the ball for the second game of the season, possibly indicating that he has the best odds to stick around once the veterans return. Still just 21, he impressed with a 3.29 ERA in 13.2 spring innings, striking out 13 while walking just two. Wright will start the third game on the schedule. He struggled to a 7.11 ERA in 12.2 innings but also had a very strong 18:4 K:BB. Max Fried is listed as the fifth starter, though his position is the most tenuous, as he won't get the start if he's needed in long relief in one of the Braves' first few games. He's had a fine spring himself, with a 16:5 K:BB and 2.35 ERA in 15.1 frames. Touki Toussaint ends up somewhat surprisingly being the odd man out. His spring ERA was an ugly 8.62, but his 20:3 K:BB was very strong.

 Baltimore Orioles

Catcher

Chance Sisco, the presumptive favorite for the starting catcher job, was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk despite an excellent .382/.533/.765 line during spring training. It would be a surprise if he doesn't eventually take over starting duties at some point this season, but it's hard to say when that will be. Austin Wynns, who entered camp seemingly second in line behind Sisco, has now missed over three weeks with an oblique issue and has been placed on the injured list. That leaves the surprising and uninspiring duo of Pedro Severino and Jesus Sucre to hold down the fort behind the plate, at least in the short term. Severino's career slash line sits at .187/.273/.287, while Sucre's rests at .223/.259/.308. Neither catcher should interest fantasy owners outside of those who play in very deep leagues.

Shortstop

The Orioles elected to go with youth over experience at the shortstop position, releasing Alcides Escobar, who has since gone on to sign a minor-league deal with the White Sox. Rule 5 picks Drew Jackson and Richie Martin remain. Jackson has had the better spring, hitting .316/.361/.386 compared to .220/.278/.320 for Martin, but Martin was the player the Orioles selected with their first pick in the Rule 5 draft, so it's possible he remains the preferred option.

Right field

With Austin Hays now battling a thumb sprain in addition to being sent to the minors, playing time in right field should be open for longer than expected. Dwight Smith took the spot in what looked like a potential Opening Day preview Monday. A platoon between Smith and Joey Rickard seems likely, with Smith getting the majority of the at-bats as the left-handed hitter.

 Boston Red Sox

Catcher

Sandy Leon passed through waivers unclaimed and was outrighted to Triple-A Rochester, meaning Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart will open the year as Boston's catching duo. The playing-time split between the two hasn't been officially clarified, but Vazquez was clearly ahead of Swihart in the pecking order last season and the setup will likely remain the same unless Swihart makes a strong claim for more starts.

Closer

Clarity has yet to emerge in the Red Sox's closer situation. Matt Barnes has a 6.75 ERA in 5.1 innings, but he's also struck out 10 batters. Ryan Brasier had a late start due to a toe issue but has a 4:0 K:BB in 2.2 frames.

  Chicago Cubs

Second base

Daniel Descalso has returned to game action following a shoulder injury but has gone just 2-for-17 at the plate this spring. Ben Zobrist should start most frequently at second when he isn't playing the outfield, though he's hit just .200. If playing time was based purely on spring stats, David Bote would run away with the job, as he put together an excellent .452/.558/.738 line in Cactus League action.

Outfield

The Cubs' outfield picture was clarified somewhat after Ian Happ was surprisingly optioned to Triple-A Iowa. His terrible spring probably contributed to that decision, as he hit a miserable .135/.193/.192. He may not remain in the minors for long, but for now, his absence means good things for Albert Almora, who should start more frequently in center field. Jason Heyward can fill in there as well, but he'll mostly be needed in right field, while Kyle Schwarber won't have much competition in left. Zobrist, who should start most games at second base early on, is the only real threat to the outfielders' playing time.

 Chicago White Sox

Outfield

The White Sox signed Eloy Jimenez to an extension last week, so he no longer needs to "work on his defense" and is expected to start in left field on Opening Day. In center, there hasn't been a declared winner between Adam Engel and Leury Garcia. Engel is the presumed favorite and managed a strong spring OPS of .845, but Garcia hit an incredible .431/.478/.647. Nicky Delmonico was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after missing much of spring with a concussion, leaving Daniel Palka the clear winner in right field. Jon Jay will back up all three positions.

Fifth starter

Ervin Santana started spring slowly while recovering from a finger injury, but the White Sox won't need a fifth starter until April 10. The veteran has been handed the role and will still have two more weeks to get in game shape. Dylan Covey and Manny Banuelos will open the season in the bullpen.

Closer

Alex Colome struck out just three batters in seven spring innings, but he was officially announced as the closer over Kelvin Herrera. Herrera's decreased velocity is potentially a worry, but he recorded a 7:1 K:BB and 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings, so he still looks like capable enough to be second in line.

 Cincinnati Reds

Center field

Scott Schebler has the job for now, and potentially for longer than the Reds had initially hoped. Nick Senzel was reassigned to minor-league camp and promptly suffered an ankle sprain. He'll be in a walking boot for up to two weeks, at which point he'll still have to get back in game shape before finally getting around to working on his defense, which he was supposed to be doing for the first two weeks of the season until the Reds secured an extra year of team control. It's still likely that he'll be up fairly early in the year, but Schebler will now have a longer time than expected to make his case for regular at-bats.

 Cleveland Indians

Catcher

The Indians haven't clarified their catcher situation, but both options had good springs. Roberto Perez hit .268 with a pair of homers, while Kevin Plawecki hit two home runs of his own and outdid him with a .300 average.

Outfield corners

Jake Bauers will reportedly be spending a fair amount of time in the outfield, presumably forced out there by the presence of Hanley Ramirez, further complicating the picture in the outfield corners. He looks to be in line for the majority of starts in left field, with Tyler Naquin starting most often in right. Neither will have a true full-time role, as the team has a number of mouths to feed. Carlos Gonzalez signed late in camp and won't be ready in time to make the Opening Day roster, but he'll start fairly frequently once he's called up. Manager Terry Francona likes Greg Allen as a late-inning bench weapon due to his speed, but he'll get some starts as well, as will Jordan Luplow. Bradley Zimmer has an uncertain timetable in his recovery from shoulder surgery, but he'll factor into the mix once he's healthy.

 Colorado Rockies

Catcher

Tom Murphy had a good spring but was designated for assignment and claimed by the Giants, so the Rockies are left with just Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters. Iannetta was the primary option last season and the team hasn't given any indication that's about to change.

Second base

Reports point towards a platoon between Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson, with the left-handed McMahon being the primary option. Both had excellent springs, with McMahon homering three times while recording a 1.273 OPS and Hampson recording a .991 OPS of his own while stealing seven bases and launching four home runs.

Fifth starter

Chad Bettis was named the Rockies' fifth starter after a strong spring in which he showcased increased velocity and recorded a 3.38 ERA in 16 innings of work. He was scratched from his most recent start with neck stiffness, but the issue doesn't appear to be serious. Jeff Hoffman was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque, while Antonio Senzatela appears to be bound for the injured list with a foot blister.

 Detroit Tigers

Rotation

Michael Fulmer's Tommy John surgery opened up one more rotation spot, which wound up being claimed by late-emerging candidate Spencer Turnbull. The 26-year-old's job is well-earned, as he recorded a 1.80 ERA with a 15:2 K:BB in 15 spring innings. Tyson Ross will also start, with Daniel Norris headed for a long-relief role. Norris lost out to Turnbull after a poor spring in which he stumbled to a 6.75 ERA and 11:9 K:BB.

Closer

Shane Greene had a strong spring, allowing just one run in nine innings, so his job doesn't appear to be under any immediate threat. Joe Jimenez pitched well himself, finishing with an 11:2 K:BB in 8.2 innings.

 Houston Astros

Right field

Josh Reddick missed some time in the last week with back stiffness but has since returned to the lineup. He'll get the bulk of the starts in right, with Jake Marisnick and Tony Kemp also factoring in. Kyle Tucker should eventually challenge for a spot but will remain in the minors for now.

 Kansas City Royals

Rotation

Jorge Lopez was confirmed as the team's third starter to begin the season. Homer Bailey may hang back at extended spring training for a few days but is expected to step in for a start next week. Danny Duffy will miss time with shoulder tightness, opening up one spot temporarily. The Royals won't actually need a fifth starter until April 10. Rule 5 pick Chris Ellis remains with the team, so he could theoretically factor into the picture. Heath Fillmyer has been optioned to Triple-A Omaha but could return to make a spot start or two.

Closer

The Royals also haven't offered any clarity on their closer situation, potentially because they don't intend to have a true closer. Based on spring stats, Wily Peralta deserves the job. His 8:5 K:BB wasn't anything special, but his 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings this spring was far better than the 11.57 mark posted by Brad Boxberger. Dark-horse candidate Tim Hill allowed just one run in 7.1 innings but had an unimpressive 3:3 K:BB.

Right field

Brian Goodwin seemed to have this job locked up with Brett Phillips and Jorge Bonifacio sent to the minors, but Goodwin has since been rather surprisingly released. The move means Jorge Soler could be moving out to the outfield from a designated-hitter role, opening up at-bats for Lucas Duda.

 Los Angeles Angels

Setup man

Ty Buttrey and Justin Anderson each staked their claims to be the eighth-inning man in front of new closer Cody Allen, with Buttrey posting a 2.08 ERA and Anderson's ERA coming in at 1.93. Buttrey struck out 12 batters in just 8.2 innings.

 Los Angeles Dodgers

Left field

Enrique Hernandez is reportedly in line for a regular role at second base, pushing Chris Taylor into the outfield mix. He'll start in left field against lefties, with Alex Verdugo and Joc Pederson competing for starts against righties. Neither of the left-handers had a particularly strong spring, with Pederson's .683 OPS edging out Verdugo's .656 mark.

 Miami Marlins

Outfield corners

Austin Dean and Peter O'Brien appeared to be fairly well-positioned for regular at-bats, but both have since been sent down to Triple-A New Orleans. That leaves Garrett Cooper and Curtis Granderson in line to start in the outfield corners. Cooper had a strong spring, hitting .395/.447/.488, while Granderson hit a miserable .156/.206/.281.

Closer

The Marlins' closer situation still seems to be up in the air. Based on spring numbers, Adam Conley deserves the job, as he finished with a 9:1 K:BB and 2.08 ERA. He's hardly been a dominant pitcher over the course of his career, as his major-league ERA sits at 4.58, and he's left-handed, but his stuff has really played up since he moved to relief. Sergio Romo has done well also, with a 3.68 spring ERA and 10:2 K:BB. Drew Steckenrider seemingly needs to sort things out before truly being in the conversation, as he allowed eight runs in 8.2 innings while recording an ugly 5:5 K:BB.

 Milwaukee Brewers

Rotation

In an unexpected move, the Brewers sent Chase Anderson to the bullpen, opening up rotation spots for all four of Zach Davies, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta. Jimmy Nelson could eventually return and take a spot from one member of that quartet, but he's already battled forearm and elbow issues this spring as he works his way back from the shoulder injury which cost him all of 2018. It's far from guaranteed that he'll make a large number of starts this season, especially for a team with a proven history of using its pitching staff in creative ways.

 Minnesota Twins

Catcher

Jason Castro looks to be set for the starting catcher job after posting a 1.019 OPS this spring. Mitch Garver will back him up, with Willians Astudillo, who didn't strike out or walk in 50 Grapefruit League plate appearances, expected to fill a utility role.

Fifth starter

Both Martin Perez and Adalberto Mejia have made the team, but both will initially fill bullpen roles. The Twins have four off days in the first 12 days of their schedule, so they can rely on just four starters until mid-April. Perez seems to be in the lead for the fifth starter job once one is needed, though results in the first two weeks of the season could still change that.

Closer

The Twins still haven't named a closer, with a committee approach seemingly likely to start the year. Addison Reed won't be part of that committee, as he'll be on the injured list with a thumb issue, but at least four relievers could be getting saves: Trevor May, Blake Parker, Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger. May and Parker are thought to be the favorites.

 New York Mets

First base

Any doubt about Pete Alonso's roster status was eliminated Wednesday when the Mets officially announced that he had made the roster. Dominic Smith's .831 spring OPS would have given the team an excuse to keep Alonso down for a few weeks, but alas, Smith is expected to open in a bench role.

Outfield

Jed Lowrie (knee) and Todd Frazier (oblique) are both expected to open on the injured list, so Jeff McNeil will be occupying third base to open the season and won't be involved in the outfield picture. Rajai Davis is out as well, having been sent to Triple-A Syracuse. That leaves Keon Broxton and Juan Lagares fighting for starts. Based on their respective spring performances, Broxton deserves more playing time, as his .825 spring OPS dwarfs Lagares' .479 mark.

 New York Yankees

First base

Both Luke Voit and Greg Bird will be on the Opening Day roster, as Aaron Hicks will spend some time on the injured list with a back issue. Both should start plenty of games early, with one filling in as a designated hitter, as Giancarlo Stanton will be needed in the outfield due to Hicks' injury and Clint Frazier being optioned. When Hicks comes back, which should happen in mid-April, one of the first basemen is likely to be sent down.

Rotation

The absences of Luis Severino (shoulder) and CC Sabathia (knee/heart/suspension) have opened up two temporary rotation spots. Domingo German will start the fourth game of the season, indicating that he may have an inside edge to stick in the rotation until Severino returns in May. Jonathan Loaisiga has technically been optioned, but he's also penciled in to start the sixth game of the season. He'll take Sabathia's roster spot once Sabathia has served his suspension and heads to the injured list. Luis Cessa appeared to have the inside track on a rotation spot at one point but will fill a bullpen role. Gio Gonzalez doesn't appear to be quite ready yet after signing late in camp, but he could eventually move ahead of German and Loaisiga in the pecking order.

 Oakland Athletics

Catcher

Chris Herrmann has been placed on the 60-day injured list following knee surgery, so Josh Phegley and Nick Hundley each have a safe roster spot for the foreseeable future. The pair is reportedly in line for a roughly equal split of playing time.

Left field

The Athletics still have a number of players on the roster who could play left field, but Matt Olson's lengthy layoff due to a broken hamate bone clears things up a bit, as the hole at first base affects most of the players involved in the left-field battle in some way. Mark Canha and Chad Pinder are each expected to receive a portion of their starts at first base, while Franklin Barreto will get some starts at second base when Jurickson Profar moves to first. Robbie Grossman could benefit from the injury as the lone healthy contestant who doesn't appear to have opportunities at other positions. Nick Martini will eventually add further confusion to the picture, but he's currently on the injured list with a knee sprain.

Rotation

Jesus Luzardo will sadly not be part of the rotation picture early in the season, as he won't return to throwing until May due to a strained rotator cuff. Brett Anderson is expected to be the third starter behind Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada. Frankie Montas finished the spring with an excellent 0.56 ERA in 16 innings, earning himself the fourth spot in the rotation. That leaves Chris Bassitt and Aaron Brooks fighting for the final spot. Neither pitcher's spring ERA was good, with Bassitt's coming in at 5.40 and Brooks' sitting at 6.00, though Bassitt's 12:1 K:BB was impressive. He has an option remaining while Brooks does not, however, which could wind up being the determining factor. Daniel Mengden has been optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas and is out of the picture for now.

 Philadelphia Phillies

Third base

Maikel Franco has been in the Phillies' lineup when the team runs out what looks to be the Opening Day starters, which makes sense, as he always seemed to be ahead of Scott Kingery despite the reported battle between the two. Kingery did at least end spring hot and brought his OPS up to .799.

Center field

Odubel Herrera will be the unquestioned starting center fielder with Roman Quinn still out with an oblique injury. Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr will fill backup outfield roles.

Closer

The Phillies haven't clarified their closer situation and may wind up ignoring saves completely in favor of a matchups-based approach. David Robertson, Seranthony Dominguez and Hector Neris remain the most likely pitchers to find themselves pitching in the ninth inning, but there's been no indication that any of them will be given the chance to be a true closer. Robertson barely pitched this spring, throwing just 3.2 innings, but there has been no word of an injury. Dominguez has a strong 11:2 K:BB in nine innings, while Neris has outdone him with an impressive 17:2 K:BB in 9.2 frames.

 Pittsburgh Pirates

Fifth starter

Due to early off days, the Pirates won't need a fifth starter until April 7, and they don't appear to have fully settled who will get that job. Jordan Lyles has the inside track, but he missed some time in camp with a side issue and doesn't have his pitch count fully built up. Steven Brault is available should Lyles not be ready to go but will be sent to Triple-A if he isn't needed as a starter. Nick Kingham made the Opening Day roster but will fill a bullpen role.

 San Diego Padres

Catcher

The Padres haven't laid out the playing-time split between Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia behind the plate, and their respective spring stats don't help separate the pair. Mejia finished spring with a 1.005 OPS, while Hedges edged him out with a 1.008 mark.

Shortstop

The Padres didn't seem to have a battle at shortstop, but team elected to call up Fernando Tatis Jr. for the Opening Day roster and send Luis Urias to Triple-A. The team could have sent Tatis down without many accusations of service-time manipulation, as the 20-year-old had yet to reach Triple-A, but he's evidently been deemed ready and San Diego saw no reason to wait. Tatis' spring numbers are nothing special, as he hit .245/.310/.453, but he's a very highly-rated prospect and will have the chance to show why from the start of the season.

Outfield

Manuel Margot is back to looking like the starting center fielder after Wil Myers looked primed to take over the job earlier in camp. Myers could spend some time there but evidently didn't look good enough defensively for the Padres to trust him in center on a regular basis. That's bad news for Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe, who will now have Myers eating into their playing time in the corners. Franchy Cordero looks set to back up all three spots.

 San Francisco Giants

Outfield

Cameron Maybin was released after a rough spring in which he was arrested for a DUI and recorded a .163/.250/.233 slash line. That leaves Mac Williamson, Steven Duggar and Gerardo Parra in relatively unchallenged starting spots across the outfield, with the newly-acquired Michael Reed serving as the fourth outfielder.

Closer

The Giants still haven't officially announced their closer, but Will Smith has done all he can to keep the job, throwing six scoreless innings with a 7:2 K:BB. Sam Dyson has been fine as well, allowing one run in seven frames. Mark Melancon had a very poor spring, allowing seven runs in 6.2 innings.

 Seattle Mariners

Closer

Hunter Strickland is the current MLB saves leader after saving both of the Mariners' wins over the Athletics in Japan. He may be fully established as the closer by the time Anthony Swarzak (shoulder) returns from the injured list.

 St. Louis Cardinals

Right field

Dexter Fowler posted a .571 spring OPS but appears to be nevertheless the starter in right field for now. Jose Martinez didn't push him at all, hitting .170/.235/.255. Tyler O'Neill has made the roster but will open the season in a bench role.

Fifth starter

Dakota Hudson was named the Cardinals' fifth starter after finishing spring with a 1.25 ERA. John Gant made the roster and will be a swingman.

Closer

Manager Mike Schildt wouldn't officially name Jordan Hicks the closer but suggested HIcks would get the majority of the opportunities. It's hard to say he doesn't deserve the honor after he recorded a 1.50 ERA with 11 strikeouts in six spring innings, though he did also walk over a batter per inning, handing out seven free passes. Andrew Miller's spring ERA was over 10 runs worse than Hicks' mark, coming in at 11.81.

 Tampa Bay Rays

First base/designated hitter

Matt Duffy has been shut down for two weeks with hamstring and back injuries, so Yandy Diaz will be receiving some of his at-bats at third base. That would open up more playing time for Ji-Man Choi at first base and Avisail Garcia at designated hitter.

 Texas Rangers

Catcher

Isiah Kiner-Falefa had an excellent spring, hitting .440/.500/.680 and earning himself an even split with Jeff Mathis behind the plate. Jeff Mathis had a .695 spring OPS, though that qualifies as a hot streak for a player whose career mark sits at .564 over 14 seasons.

 Toronto Blue Jays

First base/designated hitter

Rowdy Tellez was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo, so he won't get to challenge for playing time right away. Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales should have uncontested roles at first base and designated hitter, respectively, at least until Tellez is eventually called up.

Second base

Devon Travis was placed on the 60-day injured list while recovering from knee surgery, so he'll be out of the picture until at least late May. Lourdes Gurriel will be the clear starter at second base at least to start the season, with Brandon Drury likely to compete with him once Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gets called up and bumps Drury off of third base.

 Washington Nationals

Catcher

Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki look to be in line for a relatively even split behind the plate. Suzuki has recorded a solid .763 spring OPS, while Gomes has had a very strong spring, hitting four homers while posting an OPS of 1.105.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Halterman
Erik Halterman is the Features Editor for RotoWire. He also co-hosts RotoWire Fantasy Baseball on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio.
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