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Predicting the Tigers' Opening Day roster

Starting rotation appears set barring spring injuries
February 10, 2019

With Tigers' Spring Training about to begin in Lakeland, Fla., here's an early dart throw at how the 25-man roster could shake out for Opening Day. While some spots will come down to positional competitions (such as the one at second base), Minor League options and opt-outs will play into

With Tigers' Spring Training about to begin in Lakeland, Fla., here's an early dart throw at how the 25-man roster could shake out for Opening Day. While some spots will come down to positional competitions (such as the one at second base), Minor League options and opt-outs will play into others, such as the case of Rule 5 Draft pick Reed Garrett in the bullpen.
Catcher (2):Grayson Greiner, John Hicks
The Tigers want to give Greiner a shot to be the primary catcher, with Hicks available as a late-game pinch-hitter, who can also fill in at first base or DH.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
First base (1): Miguel Cabrera
Manager Ron Gardenhire said he'll determine how much Cabrera plays at first base or designated hitter by how he looks and feels in Spring Training. Cabrera generally has preferred not to be the DH, but is willing to do so if the Tigers decide it's best. Hicks and Niko Goodrum are options at first when Cabrera slides over to DH.
Second base (1): Goodrum
Though Goodrum's versatility is a huge asset, second base is the Tigers' biggest remaining void, though Gordon Beckham could address that with a hitting revival in camp.
Third base (1): Jeimer Candelario
The Tigers are hoping for health and progress from Candelario after wrist issues hampered him in 2018.
Shortstop (1): Jordy Mercer
The Tigers signed Mercer early in the offseason to provide everyday stability at short.

Outfield (4): Nicholas Castellanos, JaCoby Jones, Christin Stewart, Mikie Mahtook
The Tigers essentially have four outfielders for three spots, but they also have the DH slot available on days when Cabrera plays at first base.
Utility (2): Ronny Rodriguez, Kaleb Cowart
If Goodrum becomes the regular second baseman, then Rodriguez essentially becomes the new Goodrum, getting playing time all over the field. Cowart is out of Minor League options, and can also potentially pitch, which could make him too intriguing to risk placing on waivers.
Starting pitchers (5): Matthew Boyd, Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, Tyson Ross, Matt Moore
If everybody stays healthy, then experience wins out. It's rare that every starting pitcher stays healthy heading into Opening Day, but it's hard to predict injuries.

Relief pitchers (8): Shane Greene, Joe Jiménez, Daniel Stumpf, Buck Farmer, Drew VerHagen, Garrett, Blaine Hardy, Daniel Norris
The Tigers are in a roster crunch with their pitching staff, which along with other factors, could drive them to an eight-man bullpen to begin the season.
Got all that? Here's a simple list of the projected roster just in case:
CATCHERS
Grayson Greiner
John Hicks
INFIELDERS
Miguel Cabrera
Jeimer Candelario
Niko Goodrum
Jordy Mercer
OUTFIELDERS
Nicholas Castellanos
JaCoby Jones
Mikie Mahtook
Christin Stewart
UTILITY PLAYERS
Kaleb Cowart
Ronny Rodriguez
STARTING PITCHERS
Matthew Boyd
Michael Fulmer
Matt Moore
Tyson Ross
Jordan Zimmermann
RELIEF PITCHERS
Buck Farmer
Reed Garrett
Shane Greene
Blaine Hardy
Joe Jimenez
Daniel Norris
Daniel Stumpf
Drew VerHagen

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.