There has been a lot of discussion of what rosters for major league baseball teams will look like if a season gets underway in early July.
The most common model has been a 50 man pool in which each team can choose from, and a 30 player active roster for each game.
If that is the case, how do the Cleveland Indians make up the 50 players who will be eligible for this season?
You would presume the normal 40 man roster would be part of this equation, but in looking at the Tribe's situation, that would mean you would have to make room for a third catcher (neither Beau Taylor or Cameron Rupp are currently on the 40 man), and neither is utility man Mike Freeman.
Another possible hurdle for the Indians is that only one of their Top 10 Prospects, RHP Triston McKenzie, is currently on the 40 man roster. So, if the extra ten spots were being used for prospects, nine of them are already filled.
There is some normal jostling of the 40 man roster coming out of spring training anyway, so some of these moves would have had to be made anyway. For example, Freeman would have probably made the team anyway, necessitating a move to the 40 man roster.
Does this mean the Indians will take the remaining nine top prospects, plus a third catcher as the ten extra men who can travel with the squad this season?
The Tribe's prospect list is very young, so while they would love for those players not to miss a year of development, the only players who might be able to help the big league team this season are Nolan Jones and Tyler Freeman, and the latter has never played above the high A level.
Of prospects #11-#20 (we are using Baseball America's list), many of those players are on the 40 man roster already: #11 Logan Allen, #12 Bobby Bradley, #13 Scott Moss, #15 Emmanuel Clase, #16 James Karinchak, and #17 Sam Hentges.
Karinchak figured to make the Opening Day roster anyway.
That would seem to leave these players needing a place to develop in 2020: #14 RHP Carlos Vargas (highest level Mahoning Valley), #18 RHP Luis Oviedo (Lake County), #19 SS Yordys Valdes (Arizona Rookie League),
and #20 SS Angel Martinez (Dominican Rookie League).
We would think most big league club will have extended spring training going for these younger players with intrasquad games to provide competition.
Since the Indians share their Goodyear, Arizona facility with the Reds, our guess is those two organizations' prospects will be very familiar with each other by the end of the summer.
The Indians could make more room on the proposed 50 man squad by sending some of their younger players in the top ten to their complex as well.
We are talking about players like last year's first round pick RHP Daniel Espino (#6), RHP Ethan Hankins (#8), SS Gabriel Rodriguez (#10) and perhaps even OF George Valera (#4), SS Brayan Rocchio (#5), and 2B Aaron Brocho (#9).
The key there is will the sport allow these younger players to have access to the spring training facilities. Although if there is a season, we don't see why that would not be allowed.
Usually, you can look at the 40 man roster, and see some candidates to be let go, but we don't believe the Indians have players like that who could sneak through waivers and remain part of the organization.
Maybe a player like RHP Jean Carlos Mejia, who at 23 has never pitched above the High Class A level, but the other candidates would be INF Christian Arroyo, who the Indians traded for a year ago and was a top prospect beset by injuries, Yu Chang, or players like Greg Allen and/or Bradley Zimmer, and it would be a shock if the organization moved on from them.
If the players and owners can agree to a system that works for this year, it will certainly be different from the norm, but the strategy of organizations will be interesting.
How the Indians react will no doubt be discussed at large when the decisions are made.