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Powerful returning lineup projected for Rox

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- With still a month before pitchers and catchers begin working out in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Rockies theoretically could put a lineup on the field based on what the roster already looks like.

High-pedigree players Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado return at key spots in the order, Ian Desmond and Gerardo Parra have proven track records and Trevor Story has flashed power and run production.

DENVER -- With still a month before pitchers and catchers begin working out in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Rockies theoretically could put a lineup on the field based on what the roster already looks like.

High-pedigree players Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado return at key spots in the order, Ian Desmond and Gerardo Parra have proven track records and Trevor Story has flashed power and run production.

But there is still time to inject a little more production, whether it's a Major League free agent or a veteran on a Minor League contract.

MLB.com is taking a look at the projected lineup of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the Rockies might stack up:

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Charlie Blackmon, CF
DJ LeMahieu, 2B
Ian Desmond, LF
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Gerardo Parra, RF
Trevor Story, SS
Ryan McMahon, 1B
Chris Iannetta, C

STRENGTH
Arenado, Blackmon and Desmond have a history of power. Blackmon, LeMahieu and Parra have had big years with batting average, and Arenado cracked .300 for the first time last season. Story and Iannetta are known to hit balls hard. One idea is to find an experienced first baseman, but McMahon is coming off a strong Minor League season and has run-production potential.

QUESTION MARK
With Carlos Gonzalez and Mark Reynolds testing free agency, there is a need for one more big bat. It could be either of them. Or another experienced hitter on the market. Or possibly a Rockies product like McMahon. Or one of two outfielders -- David Dahl and Raimel Tapia. Or the answer could be in-house, should Desmond -- who is listed here in left field but could play first base -- catch fire after dealing with injuries for much of 2017.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Combining players under contract and what is expected via arbitration, the Rockies have a payroll of about $130 million. General manager Jeff Bridich said last month he anticipated the 2018 payroll to be about where the Rockies finished '17, somewhere around $146 million. Officially, however, that payroll included $22 million (plus a $4 million '18 option) for shortstop Jose Reyes, who had long since ended up with the Mets. Bridich hasn't determined whether to go into the free-agent market for a corner bat, or let players the Rockies have developed have their shot.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies