SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Less than two weeks from finalizing their Opening Day roster, the D-backs have a handful of players who are both out of options and on the cusp of making the club. Of the 13 players in camp who are out of options, Albert Suarez is probably the
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Less than two weeks from finalizing their Opening Day roster, the D-backs have a handful of players who are both out of options and on the cusp of making the club. Of the 13 players in camp who are out of options, Albert Suarez is probably the biggest question mark as he competes for a role in the bullpen as a long reliever.
"I'm preparing for anything," Suarez said of his approach to winning a job. "My mindset is just to come here and if they need me as a starter, if they need me as a long reliever, I will do anything to help the team. That's my mindset right now."
If a spot opens up in the rotation, Suarez would be among the top candidates under consideration for the role, but the five starters were set before camp opened and only a late case of groin tightness for Zack Greinke has muddied the waters. Greinke appears unlikely to make the Opening Day start, but barring a setback, he should be ready before the D-backs need a fifth starter.
Suarez's situation has added gravity, since not only is he out of options, but he's a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Giants, and if he's not on the 25-man roster all season, he would be given back to San Francisco.
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"We're going to evaluate him like we would anybody else," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of Suarez. "We know what the circumstances are, and we've been very impressed with what he's been doing thus far in the spring. We know there's a good chance we could lose a really good right arm if we don't carry him for the entire year, but that's not going to blind us to make a wrong or right decision."
Among those out of options who look like locks for the roster are Zack Godley, who is slotted in as the fifth starter in the rotation after going 8-9 with a 3.37 ERA in 26 games (25 starts) in 2017, and Brad Boxberger, who will be in the back of the bullpen and is competing for the closer role.
Chris Herrmann will likely reprise his role as the D-backs' third catcher. He can jump into the outfield when needed, as he did 24 times last season, and he may get a turn or two at first base.
"I really liked having that third catcher," Lovullo said of his inclination to stick with what has worked for him. "I've only managed games that way, and I've gotten used to it, so the third guy is quite a luxury for me. But I like that third catcher versatility."
The only other question mark is left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland, who went 4-5 with a 5.33 ERA in 43 games spanning 54 innings for the D-backs last year. He has not allowed an earned run in six Cactus League games over 7 1/3 spring innings, and he should join Andrew Chafin as a second southpaw in the bullpen.
The remaining players out of options are all on Minor League contracts, so none of them are in jeopardy of hitting the waiver wire if -- as expected -- they don't break camp with the club on March 29. Catchers John Ryan Murphy and Anthony Recker, utility player Kristopher Negron, outfielders Rey Fuentes, Cesar Puello, and Ramon Flores (reassigned to Minor League camp on Friday) and right-hander Michael Blazek can all start in the Minors without fear of being lost.
Blazek has been among the pitchers competing with Suarez for a long-relief role in the bullpen, and he's had a strong spring, posting a 3.38 ERA in seven appearances spanning eight innings. But he'll likely go to Triple-A Reno's rotation to serve as a depth starter for the D-backs.
As a result of having signed potentially vulnerable players to Minor League contracts, the D-backs are positioned to feel free from the pressure of making roster decisions based on a player's option -- or even Rule 5 Draft -- status.
"We're going to keep the 25 best that fit our program," Lovullo said.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.