Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What To Do With The Roster

OK, most of the final roster decisions have been made and, right now, a major point is what are we going to do to fit the remaining non-roster invitees onto the 40-man roster.   Right now, the 40 man roster appears to be more than full.  Obviously those roster changes are just on paper until the team has to actually make moves, which should happen right before opening day.   Teams tend to hold off making a lot of these moves until at the very end of spring training as a number of the moves involve waiving someone off the 40-man roster to make a spot for a non-roster invitee.  Most of the time the player taken off the roster has to be exposed to waivers and, potentially lost to another team (as happened to C/2B prospect Tony Wolters earlier this year).   If a guy would get lost and then the player who replaced him on the roster would get hurt before opening day...that would not be good.  So teams wait. Plus, if the Indians wait until right before opening day, other teams would have likely filled their rosters with non-roster invitees making it less likely (though still pretty likely) that a player the Indians waived would be picked up by another team. 

It looks like the Indians will add Marlon Byrd, Joba Chamberlain, Dan Otero and Ross Detweiler to their roster.  By my count that would put the 40-man roster at 43, meaning they would have to waive three prospects/veterans off the roster or put them on the 60-day disabled list, both methods used by teams to get their rosters down to 40.   Let's look at the players who might be at risk, starting from the ones most at risk:

Jesus Aguilar - If you compare his versatility and ability to help the team right now, he is near the bottom on both accounts.  In Cleveland we hate to lose prospects (see Hector Rondon of the Cubs who I predicted would become the Cubs closer when the Indians lost him to the Rule 5 draft a couple of years ago) but I think the Indians are done with Aguilar.

Tommy Hunter - I think he is NOT a candidate to be waived but may be a candidate to go on the 60-day DL.   I think the Indians like him and can use this tactic to keep him AND not lose a prospect.

Zach Walters - The losing of Tony Wolters was, I think, a bad sign for Walters.   Wolters had more upside and versatility and hadn't really failed in the majors.  Walters has failed.   If push comes to shove, I think they waive Walters.

Joey Butler - Now, here is a guy that many might think would be waived.  I think his major league experience saves him if he has a minor league option left.   You could call on him to come up for a week or a month and get some production out of him in the outfield.  I think the Indians stash him at AAA as an insurance policy.

James Ramsey - I think the only thing saving him right now is that he is on the 40-man and is the second best healthy centerfielder in our system, if you don't count Bradley Zimmer.   I think once Zimmer makes the majors later this year and Brantley becomes healthy, Ramsey is really not needed.   Right now, however, he is an insurance policy until Brantley is healthy and Zimmer is ready, so they don't want to lose him on waivers.

I would be very surprised if anyone else on the current 40-man roster is in danger of being waived.  I think lefties TJ House, Giovanni Soto, Ryan Merritt and Kyle Crockett still have upside and even though he has been injured, Dylan Baker made the 40-man this winter and so has significant upside.

In summary I think Cleveland fans should get used to the idea that Aguilar and Walters are gone.   Let's hope we don't lose anyone else.

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