GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When the Indians reported to Spring Training three weeks ago, there were plenty of uncertainties surrounding the potential roster. The club has reached its halfway point in camp and there are still plenty of decisions to be made, but we have gotten some answers.
On top of the guaranteed starters Indians manager Terry Francona has already named, the team signed Tyler Clippard and Hanley Ramirez to Minor League contracts, which could shake up MLB.com’s first projection of the Indians 25-man roster from the beginning of camp. Let’s take another look at how it could pan out.
Catcher (2): Roberto Perez, Kevin Plawecki
What changed? What seemed like a position battle entering camp now appears to be Perez’s job to lose. Francona has mentioned the importance of a catcher’s defense and ability to run a game and has said Perez is extremely prepared for both of those. It’s not that Plawecki can’t do that as well, but the Indians are more familiar with Perez, who has spent his entire big league career with the Tribe.
First base (1): Carlos Santana
What changed? The acquisition of Ramirez could relieve Santana of DH duties, giving him a chance to be the front-runner over Jake Bauers for the first-base job. If Ramirez has a solid spring and makes the roster, Santana will be the first baseman.
Second base (1): Jason Kipnis
What changed? The only change that has happened with Kipnis at second base is that Francona has eliminated the possibility that Kipnis will be moved to the outfield. The second baseman finished out the 2018 season in center but was informed he’d be back at second for '19.
Third base (1): Jose Ramirez
What changed? Absolutely nothing has changed. Ramirez was told when he arrived in Goodyear that he will be the starting third baseman. Assuming he continues to have a healthy spring, that will not be changing.
Shortstop (1): Francisco Lindor
What changed? The health questions regarding Lindor are still there, but beginning to fade. The shortstop suffered a moderate calf strain right before Spring Training, but Francona and his staff seem more and more optimistic that Lindor will return quickly enough to make the Opening Day roster.
Outfield (4): Tyler Naquin, Leonys Martin, Jake Bauers, Greg Allen
What changed? The outfield is anything but set in stone, but the pieces may slowly be coming together. As long as Hanley Ramirez secures the DH spot, it’s likely Bauers will be the Opening Day left fielder. Martin is a guarantee in center and Naquin may be settling in right. Allen brings a lot of versatility, being able to back up at all three spots. The Indians could also carry either Matt Joyce or Jordan Luplow for more depth if Bauers ends up bouncing between the infield and outfield.
Designated hitter (1): Hanley Ramirez
What changed? Ramirez did not join the Indians until after the team reported to camp. This signing could be the answer the Tribe was looking for (for extremely little risk) if he’s able to prove he has some magic left in his bat this spring.
Utility (1): Max Moroff
What changed? Cleveland also signed Ryan Flaherty to a Minor League deal on Feb. 7, and he could be another utility option for the Indians this season. Given the fact that Moroff is out of options and can play all over the infield, he could still be the top candidate for the utility role.
Rotation (5): Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber
What changed? No changes here. The one part of Cleveland’s roster that was a guarantee coming in to camp was its rotation, and it’s projected to be as dominant as ever.
Bullpen (8): Brad Hand, Adam Cimber, Oliver Perez, Dan Otero, Tyler Olson, Neil Ramirez, Alex Wilson, Tyler Clippard
What changed? Clippard was signed to a Minor League contract on Feb. 23. Both he and Wilson are the top non-roster candidates to break camp with the Indians. Although Hand was officially named the closer, the rest of the spots remain in flux.
Here’s the full rundown of the Indians’ 25-man roster projection: