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Who'll be on Arizona's Opening Day roster?

January 14, 2020

PHOENIX -- With Spring Training set to open a little more than a month from now, the D-backs’ roster heading into it is coming into clearer focus. Since we last took a stab at predicting the Opening Day roster, the club has added starter Madison Bumgarner, catcher Stephen Vogt, right

PHOENIX -- With Spring Training set to open a little more than a month from now, the D-backs’ roster heading into it is coming into clearer focus.

Since we last took a stab at predicting the Opening Day roster, the club has added starter Madison Bumgarner, catcher Stephen Vogt, right fielder Kole Calhoun and reliever Junior Guerra.

It’s far too early to accurately predict what the D-backs' Opening Day roster might look like. But here you’ll find some information that will help you make your own projections.

Beginning next year, teams will carry 26 players (a maximum of 13 pitchers) on their active roster throughout the season. The D-backs have indicated that they will likely keep it split 13-13 between position players and pitchers.

With all that in mind, here’s the latest look at what they’ll be considering.

Locks: Carson Kelly, Stephen Vogt
Possibilities: Daulton Varsho

Kelly did enough in his first season with the D-backs to go into Spring Training as the Opening Day starter. The D-backs abandoned their three-catcher rotation after the first two months of the season in order to give Kelly the majority of the playing time, and our early prediction that the D-backs would add a veteran to back him up and serve as a mentor was on the money as Arizona inked Vogt. In addition to helping Kelly continue to develop, Vogt gives the D-backs a left-handed-hitting option behind the plate against tough right-handed pitchers.

First Base
Locks: Christian Walker, Jake Lamb
Possibilities: Kevin Cron

Walker exceeded expectations in his first full season in the big leagues, both offensively and defensively. The question is who will back him up. Lamb is the favorite for that, and he will likely see time here and at third base. Cron mashed in the Minor Leagues and showed that power in his brief time in the big leagues, but he didn’t get much of a chance to play.

Second Base
Locks: None
Possibilities: Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Josh Rojas, Andy Young, trade/free agent

There’s still a lot to be determined here. Marte and Escobar are locks to be on the roster, but will they be mainly in center and at third base, respectively? That’s the question we still don’t know the answer to. The D-backs would prefer to have Marte play more second than the outfield, but if they can’t find a center fielder to their liking, they will have to shift Marte out there and either sign a second baseman or use Escobar there in an everyday role. Rojas and Young are in the mix here depending on how it all shakes out.

Locks: Nick Ahmed
Possibilities: Ildemaro Vargas

Ahmed had another stellar season with the glove and continues to get better each year with the bat as well. He is a leader both on and off the field, and the team would like to sign him to an extension before he reaches free agency following the 2020 season. Vargas is a versatile backup who can play second, short and third and provides a quality at-bat off the bench. Marte, who came up as a shortstop, is another player who can fill in here if needed.

Third Base
Locks: Eduardo Escobar, Jake Lamb
Possibilities: Josh Rojas, Ildemaro Vargas

Escobar is going to start somewhere; the question is whether it will be at second or third, although it seems more likely to be third. Lamb will see playing time here and at first base, with Escobar likely shifting to second on those days. Rojas and Andy Young have also played the position in the Minor Leagues.

Locks: Ketel Marte, David Peralta, Kole Calhoun
Possibilities: Tim Locastro, free agent/trade

Marte will play center unless the D-backs can find a center fielder either via trade or free agency, something that has so far proved problematic. Peralta should be fully recovered from the right shoulder injury that nagged him for much of last year, and Locastro proved to be valuable off the bench. He has a knack for getting on via the hit-by-pitch, and his speed makes him a threat on the bases. He brings a lot of energy, and can play all three outfield positions. After non-tendering Steven Souza Jr., the D-backs filled his spot in right by signing Calhoun. The D-backs could still add another corner piece in addition to a center fielder.

Starting Pitchers
Locks: Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Mike Leake, Luke Weaver
Possibilities: Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Alex Young, Taylor Clarke, Jon Duplantier, Taylor Widener

Adding a starting pitcher was not a top priority for the D-backs heading into the offseason, but they didn’t feel they could pass on Bumgarner, who took less money to sign with Arizona. It was assumed after the move that the D-backs would trade Ray to shore up the outfield, but that doesn’t seem like a certainty at this point. If Ray stays, the D-backs will have fierce competition for the final spot in the rotation. Kelly probably deserves to be a lock given how he pitched for a full season last year and Gallen for how he pitched after coming over at the Trade Deadline. Yet one could be the odd man out depending on what happens with Ray. Young and Clarke also pitched well at times, and Duplantier’s season can probably be chalked up to the fact that he was yanked from the rotation to the bullpen and back in varying stints in the big leagues.


Locks: Archie Bradley, Andrew Chafin, Yoan López, Junior Guerra

Possibilities: Kevin Ginkel, Stefan Crichton, Jimmie Sherfy, free agent/trade, starters who don’t make the rotation

It’s no surprise the D-backs added to the bullpen with Guerra because it’s the one area that Hazen always adds to whenever he can. In fact, expect the D-backs to add another reliever before the offseason is done. This could also be a landing spot for some of the pitchers who do not make the rotation, as Clarke and Young both pitched out of the bullpen at times last year. Bradley goes into Spring Training as the closer given his performance over the last few months of the season. Ginkel pitched in high-leverage situations in 2019 and certainly will head into Spring Training with a leg up on a bullpen spot.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.