Hot spots: Positions up in air as camps begin

February 16th, 2016

With the first group of pitchers and catchers set to report to camp tomorrow, there isn't a single Major League roster that's entirely set.
Position battles are a staple of Spring Training, and every single team has at least one roster spot to be settled -- some a bit more high-profile than others.
With that in mind, beat reporters for all 30 clubs analyzed the biggest battles for their respective teams. Here's a breakdown:
Blue Jays: The top four rotation spots in Toronto appear to be locked in, but the fifth spot is completely up for grabs, with five potential contenders. Aaron Sanchez, Jesse Chavez, Drew Hutchison, Gavin Floyd and Roberto Hernandez all have a shot, with the 23-year-old Sanchez offering the highest upside -- but also the least experience. More >
Orioles: The O's rotation posted a 4.53 ERA last season, which ranked 25th in the Majors, and serious questions remain entering 2016. Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez figure to occupy the first four spots. Currently, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright and Vance Worley will be fighting for the fifth spot, but if Baltimore inks Yovani Gallardo, that could shake things up. More >

Rays: Tampa Bay acquired Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson and Steve Pearce in the offseason -- each of whom brings a unique skill set to the table. They'll join Brandon Guyer, Mikie Mahtook, Kevin Kiermaier, Desmond Jennings and Steven Souza Jr. in a very crowded battle for the three starting outfield jobs -- and possibly the DH spot as well. More >
Red Sox: At this point, Blake Swihart -- who batted .303/.353/.452 in the second half last season -- is the front-runner to start at catcher for Boston on Opening Day. But if Christian Vazquez is fully healthy, he could make a push to reclaim the job that was once his before he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery last April. More >
Yankees: The Yanks' roster seems relatively set entering camp, specifically the starting nine. In fact, there might not be a team with a clearer picture of its starting lineup than New York. But there are still questions for manager Joe Girardi to answer, specifically who joins the fearsome bullpen trio of Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances. More >
Braves:Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler and Bud Norris will likely comprise the top three spots in Atlanta's rotation, but things are wide open after that. Kyle Kendrick and Jhoulys Chacin signed Minor League deals this offseason and figure to be given a shot, but the Braves could also choose to give those jobs to any of their slew of prospects. More >
Marlins: In A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps, Miami boasts two of the Majors' most unheralded relievers. With Steve Cishek out of the equation, that pair figures to compete for the closer role. Regardless of who wins, the Marlins should have a formidable back end of the bullpen, as long as Capps can stay healthy. (He missed the final two months of the 2015 season with an elbow strain.) More >
Mets: The Mets might own the most stable roster in the Majors with both their rotation and their lineup seemingly settled. But there are questions at the back of their bullpen, where only four relievers are certainties on the roster: Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Antonio Bastardo and Jerry Blevins. More >
Nationals: There's little doubt as to whether the Nats view Trea Turner as their shortstop of the future. But is he their shortstop of the present? New manager Dusty Baker will have to answer that question, as Washington has a three-man race for their starting shortstop job between Turner, Stephen Drew and Danny Espinosa. More >

Phillies: The Phils acquired Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton in the offseason, while sophomores Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff will likely join them in the rotation. That leaves one rotation spot up for grabs, and it figures to come down to a pair of former Astros -- Vincent Velasquez and Brett Oberholtzer -- each of whom came to Philadelphia in the Ken Giles trade. More >
Indians: The Tribe's most important position battle in camp arose out of necessity when Michael Brantley required surgery on his right shoulder in November. His comeback will linger into the opening months of the season, meaning there's an outfield spot to fill -- with Rajai Davis as the early favorite to do so. Collin Cowgill, who came over in a trade with the Angels, is also an option. More >

Royals:Ben Zobrist's departure leaves the Royals with the same conundrum they had at last year's Deadline: What to do at second base? Omar Infante still has $17.75 million remaining on a deal that runs through 2017, and he's the obvious favorite. But he struggled last season, and World Series hero Christian Colon could challenge Infante for the starting role. More >

Tigers: With J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton set to man the outfield corners in Detroit for several years to come, the only spot up for grabs is center field. Cameron Maybin, who returns to the organization that drafted him, appears to be the early front-runner, but Anthony Gose is also in the mix. More >
Twins: After Kyle Gibson, Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes, there are two open spots in Minnesota's rotation -- and at least five pitchers who could fill them. Tommy Milone, Ricky Nolasco, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and highly touted prospect Jose Berrios all enter 2016 with a chance to win one of those two remaining jobs. More >
White Sox: For the first time since 2008, the White Sox will open the season with someone other than Alexei Ramirez at shortstop. Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez will compete for the job this spring, though Saladino's defense and his familiarity with the position make him the early favorite. More >
Brewers: Having jumped headfirst into a rebuild, the Brewers have position battles all over the place, including a fierce one in center field, where newcomers Keon Broxton, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Rymer Liriano and Eric Young Jr. are all options. Milwaukee also must decide whether to move Ryan Braun back to left to clear right field for strong-armed Domingo Santana.  
Cardinals: There aren't many true position battles in Cards camp, but the first-base job could be cause for some spring competition. Brandon Moss, who is now more than a full year removed from right hip surgery, is expected to re-emerge as a power threat, and he figures to be the front-runner. But Matt Adams could win the job back with an impressive spring after a disappointing and injury-riddled 2015. More >

Cubs:Hector Rondon will close for the Cubs, but aside from that, the roles in the bullpen are still entirely up for grabs. Chicago added Adam Warren, Rex Brothers and C.J. Riefenhauser to a corps that already included six or seven viable relievers -- including a trio of former starters (Travis Wood, Clayton Richard and Trevor Cahill), who converted to relief roles last season to great success. More >
Pirates: When Jung Ho Kang returns, he'll man third base, and Josh Harrison will play second. But until that happens -- potentially in late April -- the infield is somewhat up in the air. Sean Rodriguez is the favorite to slide into Kang's spot, but prospect Alen Hanson or non-roster invite Cole Figueroa could also earn playing time. More >
Reds: If Homer Bailey were healthy, Cincinnati's rotation would still be full of question marks. As it stands, however, Bailey likely won't return from Tommy John surgery until May, leaving Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias as the only locks. Nine pitchers -- all at different stages of their development -- will compete for the final three spots. More >
A's:Sonny Gray is Oakland's ace; no one denies that. Rich Hill is probably also ticketed for a rotation spot, after the A's signed him to a $6 million deal in November. Who joins those two? Well, there appear to be five starters in the mix for three spots, as Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman, Chris Bassitt, Aaron Brooks and Felix Doubront will all get a look in Spring Training. More >
Angels: The Angels opted to hang onto all eight of their big league-caliber starting pitchers this offseason, meaning a fierce battle for the rotation final rotation spot(s) should take place this spring. Garrett Richards, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson appear to be locks, and Andrew Heaney is coming off a very impressive rookie campaign. That could leave Hector Santiago (the early favorite), Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano and Matt Shoemaker competing for the No. 5 starter role. More >

Astros: Houston will bring 61 players to camp this year, but there aren't many starting jobs up for grabs. The lone free-for-all comes at first base, where Jon Singleton, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Matt Duffy will all fight for playing time -- with an external candidate still a possibility. More >
Mariners: In November, Seattle had five quality starting-pitching options, and the rotation seemed set. Then Hisashi Iwakuma re-signed. His decision to return to the Mariners leaves three youngsters -- Nathan Karns, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton -- vying for the final two slots in the rotation. More >
Rangers: Texas' roster appears awfully settled entering camp this season -- especially compared with its makeup last spring. Still, there's a wide-open race for the Rangers' fifth-starter spot -- though only as a place holder until Yu Darvish returns. There figures to be some intense competition for the final bullpen spots as well. More >

D-backs: The acquisition of Jean Segura from Milwaukee added another piece to an already intriguing middle-infield puzzle in Arizona. Five players -- Segura, Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings, Phil Gosselin and Brandon Drury -- will each have a chance to win an infield spot in camp -- either as a starter or a backup. More >
Dodgers: Eight players started in left for the Dodgers in 2015, and most of those players return, so it's no surprise that left field will be the most intriguing battle entering camp. Andre Ethier's bounceback '15 campaign would appear to give him the early edge in playing time, but Carl Crawford -- who started the most games in left field of any Dodger last season -- is also in the mix. So, too, are Alex Guerrero and Scott Van Slyke. More >
Giants: San Francisco acquired Denard Span to play center field and hit leadoff. Angel Pagan might have other ideas, however. Pagan, who is still projected as the Giants' starting left fielder, could make a case to remain in center -- or, if he gets hot at the plate during spring, bat leadoff. More >

Padres: There's no shortage of Spring Training questions facing San Diego -- including within its rotation and its bullpen. But the most intriguing battle entering camp might be for the Padres' two outfield spots alongside right fielder Matt Kemp. Jon Jay, who came over in a trade with St. Louis, and Melvin Upton Jr. appear to be the early favorites, but Travis Jankowski, Jabari Blash and Alex Dickerson all provide intriguing, young options. More >
Rockies: You can ink Jorge De La Rosa and Chad Bettis into Colorado's starting rotation, and Jordan Lyles will probably join them as well. But the back end of the rotation figures to be one of the focal points at Rockies camp this spring. Tyler Chatwood and Jon Gray could be the early favorites for the final two spots, but they are by no means shoo-ins. More >