Here's a prediction for D-backs' Opening Day roster

March 17th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- We are less than two weeks away from the start of the regular season, so it’s time to take another look at the projected Opening Day roster.

A couple of key injuries to relievers over the past few days are a reminder that a lot can change between now and the March 30 opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

With that in mind, here’s an updated try at Arizona's 2023 Opening Day roster:

Catcher (2): ,
Nothing has changed here. Both Kelly and Moreno have looked good so far this spring. While the D-backs are excited about Moreno’s potential, they want to ease him into the mix, which means Kelly should see plenty of playing time early in the regular season.

First base (1):
Walker is still the unquestioned starter here. Again, the team will want to give him more days off during the season than last year, when he played 160 games. It seems like Pavin Smith and/or Emmanuel Rivera could be the primary backups if they make the team. If not, Evan Longoria might be a candidate to pick up some appearances here.

Second base (1):
Marte is expected to return from the World Baseball Classic on Saturday, as the Dominican Republic team was eliminated on Wednesday. Before departing for the WBC, he looked good both at the plate and on the field, where he seemed to show improved range from last season.

Third base (2): ,
Rojas got the majority of the playing time at third last year, and he will see time there and at second, provided he continues to show good work habits defensively, something that concerned manager Torey Lovullo last year. Longoria will see playing time against left-handers and some right-handers, and he could also see time at DH or first base.

Shortstop (2): ,
Both of these guys will make the club, the question is how Lovullo will split up the playing time. Ahmed was hampered early in camp with a left forearm issue, but he seems to be past that. He hasn’t tested out his surgically repaired shoulder with a full throw yet in a game, but he said he is confident that he can do it.

Outfield (5): , , , ,
The first four outfielders on the list are locks. The competition comes for the final spot, with Lewis and Smith the leading contenders. I’ve gone back and forth all spring with which one of them will capture the final spot. They both have played well, and it will likely come down to whichever player Lovullo thinks he will use the most. Both players have Minor League options, so they could each see time in the big leagues this year. It’s going to be a very close call that will likely come down to the wire.

Rotation (5): , , , ,
The first four were locked in heading into camp, and nothing has changed. The fifth spot, on the other hand, has been, as expected, a fierce battle among the organization’s top pitching prospects. I went with Tommy Henry in my first projection simply based on experience and switched to Drey Jameson in my second attempt after he looked exceptional early in camp. I’m going with Pfaadt this time because of how good he has been throughout. But it’s a really close, hard-fought competition which also figures to go down to the wire, with Ryne Nelson right up there with the other three.

Bullpen (8): , , , , , , ,
A pair of injuries this past week to Mark Melancon and Corbin Martin has reshuffled the bullpen. Both of them figured to be on the Opening Day roster, but now they are likely to open the year on the injured list. Mantiply, Castro, McGough, Chafin and Ginkel likely have spots locked up. Familia has seemingly pitched his way onto the team with a dominant spring. Nelson gets the nod based on how he performed last year, and we’ll go with Sulser for the final roster spot, but again, the final few spots will come down to the wire. Luis Frias and Carlos Vargas also bear watching.