SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs made two key transactions early in Spring Training that quickly solidified the outlook of their 25-man roster. With two weeks to Opening Day, the biggest remaining questions are the makeup and roles of the bullpen and the potential wild card of Zack Greinke's Opening Day
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs made two key transactions early in Spring Training that quickly solidified the outlook of their 25-man roster. With two weeks to Opening Day, the biggest remaining questions are the makeup and roles of the bullpen and the potential wild card of Zack Greinke's Opening Day status.
After opening camp, the D-backs signed free-agent outfielder Jarrod Dyson and a day later picked up outfielder Steven Souza Jr. in a three-team trade with the Yankees and Rays. What had been the D-backs' biggest concern is now a solid situation.
Catchers (3):Alex Avila, Jeff Mathis, and Chris Herrmann
With the outfield shored up, the D-backs don't need a third catcher who can play there like Herrmann can, but manager Torey Lovullo enjoyed the luxury of having three backstops last season. And since it's the only model he has managed with, he has gotten used to it. Mathis served as Greinke's primary catcher in 2017, and Herrmann -- who is hitting .333 (6-for-18) in the Cactus League -- played a similar role with Robbie Ray, leaving Avila as the starting catcher for the rest of the rotation.
First base (1):Paul Goldschmidt
Goldschmidt has played 155 games or more in four of the last five seasons and can be expected to remain a fixture at first. He needs a backup no more than once a month.
Second base (1):Ketel Marte
Marte has spent the bulk of his spring at shortstop, but he has gotten three starts at second and has made big league starts at second, third and center while spending most of his career at short. He's having a terrific Cactus League offensively -- slashing .435/.536/.609 -- as he battles Nick Ahmed for the starting shortstop job. But their use in spring games suggests Marte will soon lay claim to second.
Shortstop (1): Ahmed
Ahmed has answered all the questions about his health after missing the last three months of 2017 with a fractured right hand. He's hitting .320 (8-for-25) with three doubles, a triple, a homer and two steals. All nine of his Cactus League starts have been at short, and he hasn't played second in the Majors since two appearances during his 2014 callup.
Third base (1): Jake Lamb
Lamb has had two consistent seasons, averaging 30 homers and 98 RBIs in the middle of the lineup. Lovullo thinks he has made strides against left-handed pitching, and if he breaks through there, it could elevate his career .250 average. Lamb is a corner anchor, and if he needs relief, the middle-infield backups have been taking reps at third to be ready.
Outfield (3):David Peralta, A.J. Pollock, Souza
Souza's acquisition answered one of the biggest offseason question marks for the D-backs, giving them a quality outfielder on both sides of the ball. Look for Peralta and Pollock to hit 1-2 in the lineup, respectively, with Souza -- who hit 30 dingers for the Rays last season -- in the five spot behind Goldschmidt and Lamb.
Bench (3): Dyson, Daniel Descalso and Chris Owings
Dyson is a solid fourth outfielder who is having a solid spring, hitting .333 (5-for-15). His speed gives Lovullo a tool off the bench he didn't have in 2017. Between infielders Descalso and Owings, the D-backs have a backup at every position but catcher, with both logging innings in the outfield and Descalso doing time at first.
Starting Rotation (5): Greinke, Ray, Patrick Corbin, Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley
The rotation has been set since camp opened, though groin tightness may keep Greinke from making his Opening Day start. The D-backs have good starter depth in Triple-A Reno, and they expect Shelby Miller to be game-ready by midseason following his Tommy John surgery last May. If a different fifth starter is needed out of the gate, look for Braden Shipley or Albert Suarez to fill the role.
Bullpen (7):Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger, Yoshihisa Hirano, T.J. McFarland, Andrew Chafin, Suarez and Jimmie Sherfy
The bullpen spots and roles require the heaviest lifting. The D-backs may wait until the final days of the Cactus League to name a closer. Bradley posted a 1.73 ERA in his first season as a reliever in 2017, and Boxberger saved 41 games in '15 for the Rays before injuries cost him over half of his last two seasons. Hirano has the most experience, with 156 saves over the past eight seasons in the Japanese Pacific League after converting from a starter. Those three should comprise the back of the bullpen in one combination or another.
McFarland hasn't allowed a run in six spring outings. Assuming Sherfy is healthy for Opening Day and Randall Delgado is not, look for Suarez to edge Shipley as a Rule 5 Draft pick in an otherwise all-things-being-equal competition for long relief.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.