CLEVELAND -- After losing six starting position players from the team's 2018 postseason lineup, the Indians' Opening Day roster will have plenty of new faces. Now that Spring Training is just around the corner, let's take a look at how the club's 25-man roster could look at the start of
CLEVELAND -- After losing six starting position players from the team's 2018 postseason lineup, the Indians' Opening Day roster will have plenty of new faces. Now that Spring Training is just around the corner, let's take a look at how the club's 25-man roster could look at the start of the '19 season.
Catcher (2): Roberto Pérez, Kevin Plawecki
The starting job is up for grabs heading into the season after the Indians acquired Plawecki from the Mets on Jan. 6. Perez has the upper hand heading into Spring Training, having played for the Tribe for the last five seasons. No matter what, both are likely to get a lot of playing time throughout the season, although it is not expected to be a platoon situation.
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First base (2): Jake Bauers, Carlos Santana
Bauers and Santana will split time at first this season, but Bauers will likely get more time in the infield with Santana serving as the designated hitter. Bauers could also DH when Santana plays first, or could be an option in the Indians' outfield.
Second base (2): Jason Kipnis, Max Moroff
Kipnis finished up the 2018 season in center field, but will likely move back to second base this year. Moroff will serve as his backup, but also has experience playing shortstop and third base if needed.
Third base (1): Jose Ramirez
Ramirez was the Indians' second baseman in the 2018 postseason, but is expected to make the move back to third after the team traded Yandy Díaz to Tampa Bay.
Shortstop (1): Francisco Lindor
Lindor is now a question mark for Opening Day after suffering a moderate right calf strain in preparation for Spring Training. He is currently rehabbing and is expected to return to Major League game activity between March 27 (the eve of Opening Day) and April 10. If he's not cleared to open the season, Ryan Flaherty, whom the Indians signed on a Minor League contract, and Yu Chang could be options to take his roster spot.
Outfield (4): Tyler Naquin, Leonys Martin, Jordan Luplow, Greg Allen
Naquin (RF), Martin (CF) and Luplow (LF) are favorites to win the starting outfield positions, with Allen serving as a backup for all three spots. Both Naquin (right hip surgery) and Martin (life-threatening bacterial infection) have made full recoveries and will be unrestricted at the beginning of Spring Training. When needed, Bauers can also add some depth in the corners.
Starting pitcher (5): Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber
After the rumors that surrounded the Tribe all offseason, Kluber and Bauer have remained in Cleveland, allowing the Indians to return all of their top five starters from 2018. Last season, Cleveland led all other starting staffs in WAR (22.9) and is a favorite to be one of the most dominant in baseball once again.
Relief pitcher (8): Brad Hand, Adam Cimber, Dan Otero, Oliver Pérez, Nick Goody, Neil Ramírez, Tyler Olson, Nick Wittgren
The one guarantee of the Indians' 2019 bullpen is Hand. He will settle in as the Tribe's closer in '19 after having an undefined role in Cleveland's 'pen last season. Alex Wilson, who was signed to a Minor League deal, is another candidate to make the Indians' bullpen. Both Cody Anderson and Danny Salazar could also be relief options as they return from injuries.
The Indians will have plenty of decisions to make as camp progresses, all while keeping a close eye on All-Star shortstop Lindor. If all goes smoothly with his rehab over the next six weeks, this could be a sneak peak of the Indians' roster for Opening Day at Minnesota:
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.