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What will SD's Opening Day roster look like?

@AJCassavell
March 5, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres' full squad has been at big league camp for a while now, with workouts and Cactus League games underway with new manager Jayce Tingler. It’s a surprisingly stable roster -- especially compared with past Spring Trainings -- though position battles are expected in the infield,

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres' full squad has been at big league camp for a while now, with workouts and Cactus League games underway with new manager Jayce Tingler.

It’s a surprisingly stable roster -- especially compared with past Spring Trainings -- though position battles are expected in the infield, outfield and possibly the rotation.

Here's an early projection of how the Padres might pare their Spring Training roster to 26 for Opening Day.

Forecasting all 30 teams: Lineups, rotations, closers

Catchers (2): Francisco Mejía, Austin Hedges
The catcher to watch in camp is probably Luis Campusano, who has skyrocketed through the prospect ranks and now checks in at No. 50 overall according to MLB Pipeline. But Campusano isn't truly in contention for a roster spot, and both Francisco Mejía and Austin Hedges are expected to share time behind the plate this season. What is that split going to look like? Hard to say, but it might partially be determined by their performances this spring. Luis Torrens will also get a look behind the dish this spring.

First basemen (1): Eric Hosmer
Eric Hosmer has first base locked up for the foreseeable future. But he'll need to boost his production against left-handed pitching or he could find himself in something of a platoon -- perhaps with Wil Myers or Ty France. Since his arrival two seasons ago, Hosmer has posted a .557 OPS against lefties.

Second basemen (2): Jurickson Profar, Brian Dozier
Jurickson Profar has played all four infield positions in the past, and he's capable of playing the outfield, too. But Tingler indicated that Profar would get reps exclusively at second base this spring. Profar racked up 11 throwing errors last season, and the Padres want him focusing solely on that position. Brian Dozier, meanwhile, arrived on a Minors deal, and he could challenge Profar for the everyday role. A number of utility options are in the mix for playing time at second base as well.

Third basemen (1): Manny Machado
Remember when third base was arguably the Padres' biggest long-term question mark?

Shortstop (1): Fernando Tatis Jr.
In early February, there was speculation that the Padres might give Fernando Tatis Jr. reps in center field this spring. But general manager A.J. Preller seemed to quash that notion. Tatis remains the Padres’ shortstop of the future, and he’s fully healthy after missing the final month and a half of the 2019 season with a lower-back injury.

Utility (1): Greg Garcia
Presuming a Hosmer-Profar-Tatis-Machado infield, that leaves either two or three backup jobs available. Dozier and Greg Garcia are heavy favorites, but the other spots are completely up for grabs. Ty France, Breyvic Valera, Esteban Quiroz, Jake Cronenworth and Owen Miller are all vying for a place on the roster.

Outfield (5): Tommy Pham, Wil Myers, Trent Grisham, Franchy Cordero, Josh Naylor
By trading Manuel Margot to Tampa Bay, the Padres may have cleared a path for three of their young, lefty-hitting outfielders to make the club. With Trent Grisham as the early favorite in center field, Franchy Cordero and Josh Naylor seemed destined to battle each other for the final spot -- and potentially a right field platoon with Myers. Now, San Diego might keep both. Then again, there might not be enough playing time to go around. The Padres could still opt to use four outfielders and seven infielders. Or they could keep new signing Juan Lagares -- who is in camp on a Minor League deal with an opt-out if he doesn't make the roster. (Lagares fits the fifth-outfielder mold a little better.)

Rotation (5): Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, Garrett Richards, Zach Davies, Joey Lucchesi
For the first time in recent memory, the Padres arrived in Arizona with some level of stability in their starting rotation. Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet and Garrett Richards are probably locks. (Tingler seemingly confirmed as much in February.) Meanwhile, Zach Davies and Joey Lucchesi are favorites for the final two places, which could leave Cal Quantrill on the outside looking in. Behind those six, the Padres have invited a host of their top prospects to camp -- MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño, Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez and Ronald Bolaños. Barring injury, it's highly unlikely any of those pitchers make the roster. But, hey, a year ago it was unlikely that Paddack would've made the Opening Day rotation, too.

Bullpen (8): Kirby Yates, Emilio Pagán, Drew Pomeranz, Craig Stammen, Andres Muñoz, José Castillo, Matt Strahm, Pierce Johnson
One member of the Padres' front office recently joked that the team's Triple-A bullpen might end up being better than a few Major League bullpens this season. Come to think of it -- maybe he wasn't joking. San Diego has built one of the sport's top relief corps, and its depth is staggering. Kirby Yates will remain in his closer role, with Emilio Pagán and Drew Pomeranz as the presumptive late-inning set-up options. Andres Munoz, José Castillo, Craig Stammen and Matt Strahm will all fill prominent roles as well. That might make it hard to find a place for arms like Baez, Morejon, Trey Wingenter, Luis Perdomo and Javy Guerra. But the Padres depth will help them sustain the usual attrition of a 162-game slate.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.