MILWAUKEE -- There are few guarantees in baseball, but here's one we have been making with confidence since beginning our too-early roster predictions a couple of years ago: What follows will prove wrong. There will be medical surprises, performance surprises, pitchers bouncing between the rotation and bullpen, perhaps even a
MILWAUKEE -- There are few guarantees in baseball, but here's one we have been making with confidence since beginning our too-early roster predictions a couple of years ago: What follows will prove wrong. There will be medical surprises, performance surprises, pitchers bouncing between the rotation and bullpen, perhaps even a spring pick-up or two that no one sees coming. But that's not stopped us from taking a crack at the 25-man Opening Day roster.
Catcher (2):Yasmani Grandal, Manny Piña
Erik Kratz was an October hero for the Brewers and an inspiration to fans, but the addition of switch-hitting Grandal, the top free-agent catcher on the market, clouded Kratz's role.
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First base (2): Jesús Aguilar, Eric Thames
Last year, Aguilar was one of the last players to make the cut. Now he's coming off an All-Star season in which he claimed primary duties and Thames is the one on the bubble.
Second base (2): Hernán Pérez, Cory Spangenberg
For now, it looks like a platoon, but that could change if the Brewers sign or trade for another infielder. Perez's strength is that he can play all over the diamond, and Spangenberg is the same type of player, but a left-handed hitter. He'll see action in the outfield in camp.
Third base (1): Travis Shaw
The "default," president of baseball operations David Stearns has said, is to play Shaw at third. The Brewers' potential reunion with Mike Moustakas would move Shaw to second base.
Shortstop (1): Orlando Arcia
An up-and-down season ended on a high for Arcia, who posted a .959 OPS in the postseason.
Outfield (4): Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Ben Gamel
The Brewers traded for Gamel, a left-handed hitter with an option remaining. Other backup outfield options include Perez, Spangenberg and Thames. The Brewers really like Perez's work in the outfield.
Starting pitchers (5): Jhoulys Chacín, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson, Brandon Woodruff
This list actually goes seven deep, with Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta also likely to make a significant number of starts for the Brewers again this year. We'll go with Woodruff in the fifth spot to start because he's slightly more experienced than those two. Nelson's inclusion depends on his health after a year lost to shoulder rehab. The Brewers reportedly remain in the mix to bring back veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez.
Relief pitchers (8): Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel, Josh Hader (L), Alex Claudio (L), Matt Albers, Junior Guerra, Taylor Williams, Adrian Houser
After the first five, it's picking names out of a hat. Albers was solid through June last year, then got hurt and struggled badly the rest of the way. Guerra and Houser are out of options and the Brewers may want to break camp with them to preserve organizational depth. Williams, Jacob Barnes and newcomers Jake Petricka and Bobby Wahl all have options and figure to log innings along the way. Burnes and Peralta could pitch out of the 'pen, too. In other words, don't fret too much about who makes the Opening Day cut; the Brewers actively manage their roster and are certain to shuffle players back and forth between the Majors and Minors as needs arise.
Just like last year, there are a lot of moving parts. So here's our best guess for now.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.