Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

Does Mejia have a shot at Opening Day roster?

Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers fans' questions in the latest Inbox @MLBastian

Prior to the Indians' game against the Rockies on Friday, reporter Jordan Bastian answered fans questions live on MLB's Facebook page at Salt River Fields, as part of the latest Edward Jones Beat Reporter's Inbox. Here are some more questions on Tribe fans' minds with Opening Day less than three weeks away.

Prior to the Indians' game against the Rockies on Friday, reporter Jordan Bastian answered fans questions live on MLB's Facebook page at Salt River Fields, as part of the latest Edward Jones Beat Reporter's Inbox. Here are some more questions on Tribe fans' minds with Opening Day less than three weeks away.

Tweet from @BerryBucks8: Will Mejia make the 25 man roster?

Barring something unexpected, it appears doubtful that Francisco Mejia will begin the season on the Indians' Opening Day roster.

Per MLB Pipeline, Mejia is not only Cleveland's top prospect, but the top catching prospect in baseball. At the moment, though, the Indians are happy with their Major League catching tandem of Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes. They are both capable starters who have proven to be among the game's top defenders and have built a strong rapport with one of the baseball's best pitching staffs.

:: Submit a question to the Indians Inbox ::

The 22-year-old Mejia got a taste of the big leagues last season and is definitely knocking on the door again. One thing the Indians are considering -- given Mejia's advanced approach to hitting -- is trying to explore ways to expedite his path to The Show. That is why Mejia played some third base in the Arizona Fall League and why, as manager Terry Francona has hinted, the catcher might play some outfield early in the season.

Video: CLE@COL: Mejia belts a three-run jack in the 3rd

If something were to happen to one of Perez or Gomes, that is when the real debate will begin about Mejia's readiness for handling the responsibilities of a big league catcher on a contending club. Francona has noted that Cleveland added a veteran catcher like Ryan Hanigan in case the organization is not ready to hand the keys to Mejia, if there were a setback with the Major League catchers.

Tweet from @ventoa24: Random Q - who do you think is better defensively/behind the plate, Yan or Perez?

That is a tough call, but I'd give the edge to Perez at the moment. Earlier this spring, I dove into that very debate on my blog. According to Baseball Prospectus' version of WAR, which includes defense, Perez (1.81) was slightly ahead of Gomes (1.63) last season. Per BP, Perez had 12.5 framing runs, compared to 0.7 for Gomes. Perez (1.8) also ranked higher than Gomes (0.4) in blocking runs and posted 14.4 fielding runs above average (versus 3.2 for Gomes). Gomes, on the other hand, had 2.2 throwing runs, compared to 0.5 for Perez.

Video: CLE@COL: Gomes opens scoring with a two-run homer

Tweet from @Domi_Rella: Are there leaders in the clubhouse for the last couple of outfield spots (assuming both Brantley and Guyer aren���t ready for the opener)? Rajai, Upton, Naquin, etc.

As things currently stand, Lonnie Chisenhall projects to get the bulk of the playing time in right and Bradley Zimmer is set to earn most of the innings in center. If both Michael Brantley (right ankle) and Brandon Guyer (left wrist) are unavailable for Opening Day, that could open the door for both Rajai Davis and Melvin Upton Jr. to crack the roster as right-handed outfield complements. Francona has noted that Brandon Barnes (in camp as a non-roster invitee, along with Davis and Upton) is also in the mix. Tyler Naquin also has an outside shot at winning the job in left, if Brantley's comeback lingers into the regular season.

Tweet from @BrianLavrich: Do you see Tomlin and Merritt on the opening day roster? Or is one of them traded? #IndiansInbox

Right now, it's hard to envision both Josh Tomlin and Ryan Merritt on the Opening Day roster unless Merritt is given a job in the bullpen. Matt Belisle, Carlos Torres and Evan Marshall appear to be the main three contenders for the lone vacancy in the relief corps, though. If Merritt (out of Minor League options) does not work his way into the Opening Day plans, Cleveland might try to work out a trade rather than just exposing the lefty to waivers.

Tweet from @thefirkster: Who makes the 25 man opening day roster? Yandy? Rajai? Upton? Urshela? Gonzalez? Merritt?

Since I touched on Davis, Upton and Merritt in the above answers, I'll focus on Yandy Diaz, Giovanny Urshela and Erik Gonzalez here. Diaz is currently facing an uphill battle, because the Indians are planning on opening the year with Jose Ramirez at third base. The Indians will be weighing whether Diaz is best served getting regular at-bats at Triple-A Columbus instead of filling a part-time bench role in the bigs. One of Urshela and Gonzalez -- both out of options -- will win a utility job on the bench, but that race remains too close to call. The priority for that job is defense and it could come down to who Francona trusts more as a late-inning defender at multiple positions.

Tweet from @Zachinpublic: Why didn���t tribe go after moustakas?

I think this one comes down to fit more than anything. Say the Indians would have traded Kipnis over the winter, that would've cleared payroll and allowed Ramirez to move to second base. In that scenario, maybe Mike Moustakas would have been a fit. But, with Kipnis very much in the plans for 2018 now, Brantley working his way back to play left and Ramirez entrenched at third, there just isn't room in the inn.

Tweet from @alexyedid: How are the Indians going to make up for the hole left by Bryan Shaw? Clearly loved by Tito but I don���t think the fans really appreciated him.

Expect to see Bryan Shaw's innings distributed among Dan Otero, Zach McAllister, Nick Goody and Tyler Olson. I don't think Francona will have designated innings for any of those arms. Instead, the timing of their entrances will be determined by the game situation and the section of the order due up for the opposition. There will be a lot of mixing and matching early on, and maybe one of those relievers grows into a higher volume of high-leverage work.

Tweet from @mattgoody2: What are you going to do on your off day in Seattle after Opening Day?

I plan on putting on a flannel shirt, listening to Pearl Jam and seeing how many coffee shops I can hit in a single day.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Yan Gomes, Francisco Mejia, Ryan Merritt, Roberto Perez, Josh Tomlin