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Spring Training Job Battles: Setting the Table

Brian Pelowski

Brian Pelowski

Brian writes about fantasy baseball and covers the Philadelphia Phillies for RotoWire.

The majority of the players have reported to spring training and there are numerous jobs up for grabs across the majors. Today we provide a brief look into many of the unsettled situations to keep an eye on as you begin preparing for your fantasy drafts. Veteran free agents such as Kyle Lohse, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde, and Brian Wilson remain on the market as well. When they sign, they could have an impact on some of these situations. We'll follow up on this article two more times - on March 8 and March 29 - in order to inform you of any new developments, and to keep you up to speed on which jobs remain open and which jobs have been won.

Note: Please make use of the comments section below if you have questions about any situations that were not covered here.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Center Field: Adam Eaton looks like he will be given a shot to earn 400-500 at-bats in manager Kirk Gibson's planned four-man outfield rotation this season, but he has yet to establish himself in the majors and a rough spring could change those plans. If he fails to hit, Gerardo Parra would likely be the team's starting center fielder and it would increase the number of at-bats available for Jason Kubel and Cody Ross in the corner spots.

Shortstop: Cliff Pennington opens camp as the strong favorite to be the Diamondbacks' regular shortstop. Didi Gregorius was expected to get a shot to compete for the job, but he won't be ready for the start of the season due to a UCL injury. John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist are also on the roster, but they are expected to have reserve roles.

Fifth Starter: Randall Delgado, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin are competing for the final opening in the Arizona rotation. Skaggs struggled in his brief exposure to the majors last September and probably will head back to the minors for more work. That should leave this as a battle between Corbin and Delgado. Dan Hudson is expected to be healthy by midseason and is worth stashing as he should find his way back into the rotation when he returns.

Atlanta Braves
Catcher: There isn't a competition for the starting job, but Brian McCann will not be ready for Opening Day. That should earn Gerald Laird some extra at-bats in the early part of the season, as McCann is expected to be sidelined until at least mid-April.

Third Base: Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco are competing for playing time at third. Johnson figures to open the year as the team's starter with Francisco working in a reserve role.

Fifth Starter: Julio Teheran is considered the favorite for the job after Randall Delgado was sent to Arizona as part of the Justin Upton deal. Prospects Sean Gilmartin and J.R. Graham are in camp to compete for roster spots, but both are likely to open the year back in the minors. Brandon Beachy is expected to be ready in late June and will likely rejoin the rotation around that time. He should be stashed.

Baltimore Orioles
Left Field: Nolan Reimold, Nate McLouth and Russ Canzler are competing for playing time in left. A Reimold/McLouth platoon is the likely outcome here unless one of the two has a huge spring. Canzler could earn a bench job.

Fifth Starter: Barring disastrous spring performances from Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman, the Orioles figure to have just one rotation spot to fill this spring. Jair Jurrjens, Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Tommy Hunter, Todd Redmond and T.J. McFarland are all in the mix for the final spot in the rotation. Out of this group Jurrjens, Johnson and Arrieta probably are a notch or two ahead of the others as camp opens. The rest will likely be headed to the bullpen or back to the minors. Tsuyoshi Wada is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he could challenge for a rotation spot this summer. Top prospect Dylan Bundy should also be ready to join the rotation at some point in 2013.

Boston Red Sox
Left Field: General manager Ben Cherington has said Jonny Gomes will see plenty of playing time in left field. That seems to indicate the Sox are not thinking of going with a straight platoon in right despite the fact that Gomes has been much less effective against righties in his career. It is likely that Daniel Nava sees some work in left field as well this season, though Ryan Sweeney is also in camp to compete for playing time in left field.

Fifth Starter: There isn't really going to be competition here if John Lackey proves he is healthy this spring. Should he not be ready for Opening Day, it would create an opportunity for Franklin Morales or Alfredo Aceves. Rubby De La Rosa is expected to open the year at Triple-A, but should be the first starter to come up from the minors if the Red Sox need someone this season. He's worth stashing in deeper leagues.

Chicago Cubs
Third Base: Ian Stewart is the favorite to open the year at third for the Cubs, but he'll have to beat out Luis Valbuena and Josh Vitters this spring. Stewart has struggled to avoid injuries in his career, but says he feels fully healthy for the first time in years. His power potential makes him an interesting sleeper. Vitters looks like he needs some more time in the minors. Valbuena may end up as the Cubs' top reserve which makes him, despite limited upside, a worthwhile guy to target in very deep leagues given Stewart's previous inability to stay on the field.

Right Field: Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston will compete for playing time in right. It seems highly likely that the two end up in a straight platoon with Schierholtz starting against righties and Hairston against lefties.

Fifth Starter: Scott Baker is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Manager Dale Sveum said Scott Feldman will take Baker's spot leaving Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva to compete for the final opening in the Cubs' rotation.

Closer: There has been a lot of speculation this winter that Carlos Marmol would have to compete for the closer's role this spring, but general manager Jed Hoyer said he will enter camp with the job. Kyuji Fujikawa, who came over from Japan in the offseason, could eventually end up closing if Marmol struggles in camp or in the early part of the season. He should be stashed for now. Arodys Vizcaino, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, is also worth keeping an eye on this spring, although he could be used as a starter.

Chicago White Sox
Fifth Starter: Jose Quintana is the heavy favorite to open the year as the fifth starter. Hector Santiago could find himself in the rotation at the start of the year, however, if John Danks is not fully recovered from shoulder surgery by Opening Day.

Closer: White Sox general manager Rick Hahn endorsed Addison Reed as the White Sox's closer this week, but also noted there are other options on the roster. Reed shouldn't be in any danger of losing his job unless he has a bad spring. Matt Thornton, Matt Lindstrom and Jesse Crain would all be possible closing options if a change were to happen.

Cincinnati Reds
Fifth Starter: Aroldis Chapman has been told he will join the Reds' starting rotation, but it remains to be seen if that will happen right from the start of the season or if he will transition into the role later in the year as Kris Medlen did for the Braves last year. Should Chapman start off in the pen, Mike Leake would open the year in the rotation.

Cleveland Indians
Third Base: Lonnie Chisenhall enters camp as the favorite for the job despite not having established himself as a major leaguer yet. If things finally click for the former top prospect, he could be a steal. If he struggles, the Indians could use a combination of Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes and Mark Reynolds at third.

Designated Hitter: The Tribe hasn't indicated that any one player will fill a role as the team's primary DH. It is likely the team will rotate their regular position players through this spot for some partial rest. That could create some additional at-bats for Ezequiel Carrera, Yan Gomes, Rule 5 pick Chris McGuiness, and possibly Ben Francisco, Ryan Raburn or Jeremy Hermida if one or two of the vets win a bench job.

Fifth Starter: Zach McAllister would likely need a rough spring to create two openings in the Cleveland rotation. That leaves Trevor Bauer, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Carlos Carrasco, David Huff, Scott Barnes, and Corey Kluber competing for the final starting job. Bauer, who made his major league debut last season with Arizona, looks like the favorite to win the job. Matsuzaka and Carrasco should be Bauer's primary competition. Carrasco is coming back from Tommy John surgery and will be on an innings limit this season. It is possible the Tribe has him start the year in the minors. Matsuzaka has never fully lived up to the hype since coming over from Japan, but he has been effective at times. A good spring by Dice-K could let the Indians start Bauer off at Triple-A for some additional seasoning.

Colorado Rockies
Second Base: Josh Rutledge is expected to earn the starting job at second, but D.J. LeMahieu is in the mix as well.

Third Base: Chris Nelson is considered the favorite for the job, but he will have to battle Jordan Pacheco, Ryan Wheeler, Nolan Arenado and D.J. LeMahieu this spring. Arenado is likely the third baseman of the future for the Rockies, but he probably needs more time in the minors first.

Starting Rotation: After Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa, there does not appear to be any locks for rotation spots right now. Juan Nicasio will likely earn a job if he is fully recovered from microfracture surgery on his left knee as expected. That leaves Jeff Francis, Tyler Chatwood, Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich, and Chris Volstad to compete for two spots. Francis is probably the favorite for one based solely on his veteran status as his recent statistics indicate he should be in a mop-up role or in the minors. Pomeranz and Friedrich are further along in their development than Chatwood, giving them the leg up for the last spot. Volstad may have to hope for a bullpen gig.

Detroit Tigers
Left Field: The Tigers say they want to platoon in left field with Andy Dirks serving as the strong side of the platoon. Avisail Garcia, Brennan Boesch, Nick Castellanos and Quintin Berry will compete for the remaining at-bats in left. It would be surprising to see youngsters Garcia and Castellanos limited to a part-time role in the majors when both are better served by getting regular playing time in the minors at this point in their careers. That leaves Boesch and Berry, both lefties like Dirks, as the likely favorites to earn at-bats in left. It may not end up as a traditional platoon in left, but it sounds as if Dirks will not be an everyday regular when the season opens.

Fifth Starter: Rick Porcello is the frontrunner for the job, but his name has come up numerous times this winter in trade rumors. If he is moved, it could create an opportunity for Drew Smyly.

Closer: Rookie Bruce Rondon will be given a chance to prove he can close for the Tigers this season, but general manager Dave Dombrowski said recently that the team could still mix and match at times in the ninth inning. That could create some save opportunities for Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel, and Al Alburquerque. Benoit may be the top setup man in Detroit, but manager Jim Leyland has previously said he is not a great option to close because he does not pitch well on back-to-back days. If Rondon flops, righties Alburquerque and Dotel would figure to have the upper hand over the lefty Coke, whom the team might want to have available to face tough left handed hitters prior to the ninth inning, for the closing gig.

Houston Astros
Corner Outfield: Justin Maxwell is expected to be the regular center fielder leaving a host of players to compete for jobs in right and left. The newly acquired Chris Carter will be given a chance to play left this spring, and if he proves capable, he figures to be the starter there. Fernando Martinez might be the favorite to start in right field, but he has yet to prove he is an everyday major leaguer. If he gets the job, it is likely he will sit against lefties. That should create an opportunity for J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes to earn some at-bats.

Third Base: Matt Dominguez opens camp as the favorite for the starting job at third, but there are questions about how ready his bat is for the majors. The Astros may be willing to try Brett Wallace at third again, but they also have Marwin Gonzalez or non-roster invitee Brandon Laird as the other options at third.

Shortstop: The trade sending Jed Lowrie to Oakland has opened up playing time at short for the Astros. Tyler Greene looks like the favorite for the job entering camp, but he will have to compete with Marwin Gonzalez for at-bats.

Starting Rotation: The fourth and fifth starter spots are technically up for grabs, but it would be surprising to see Erik Bedard and Phil Humber not come away with the jobs. Jordan Lyles is also believed to have a hold on a rotation spot, but he may be vulnerable given his youth and poor numbers from last season. If a spot does open up, Dallas Keuchel, Alex White and Brad Peacock look like the top candidates for a job.

Closer: Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said on RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today last week that Veras is the frontrunner to close for the Astros entering spring training. He's been a solid reliever in the past and has posted strong strikeout rates, but has also struggled with his command. That said, options are limited in the Astros' pen. Manager Bo Porter mentioned Rhiner Cruz and Hector Ambriz as guys that could pitch late in games, and Rule 5 pick Josh Fields could become an option if his minor league success can carry over to the majors. Luhnow had also mentioned prospect Jarred Cosart as a closing candidate prior to signing Veras, but he'll compete for a rotation spot instead this spring. A move to the bullpen may be in his future, however.

Kansas City Royals
Second Base: Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella will battle for playing time this spring, and the recently acquired Elliot Johnson could also be in the mix. It is possible this ends up as a straight lefty/righty platoon between Getz and Giavotella.

Fifth Starter: Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza will compete for the fifth spot in the Royals' rotation. The team is expected to take a long look at each guy in camp which means we might not know who has the job until late March. Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino, who are both recovering from Tommy John surgery, could make an impact later in the year.

Los Angeles Angels
Closer: The Angels have not officially said that Ryan Madson will be the team's closer when he is healthy, but his signing has created some doubt about Ernesto Frieri's hold on the job. Madson is not expected to be ready for Opening Day, but it sounds as if he won't miss too much time in April provided there are no additional setbacks this spring. Frieri will need to pitch extremely well in the early part of the season to hold off Madson for the closing gig. Sean Burnett was also signed by the Angels this winter, and he has proven capable of closing games in the past as well. He could also factor into save situations if Frieri struggles, and Madson has to miss any significant amount of time.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Third Base: Luis Cruz has a strong hold on this job, but if he struggles this spring, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Nick Punto could see some additional work at the hot corner.

Fifth Starter: Chad Billingsley will compete with Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly for the final spot in the Dodgers' rotation. Billingsley is the favorite for the job, but he is an injury concern having opted to rehab his elbow this winter instead of having surgery. Any of the other three are capable of securing the job with a strong spring. It is also likely the Dodgers will try to trade one or two of the pitchers from this group this spring.

Miami Marlins
First Base: Logan Morrison will have the starting job here if he is healthy, but he said recently that he won't know until later this spring if he will be ready for Opening Day. Casey Kotchman, Greg Dobbs, Joe Mahoney, Austin Kearns and Kevin Kouzmanoff would be in the mix at first if Morrison's right knee prevents him from starting the year on the active roster.

Second Base: Donovan Solano is expected to open the year as the Marlins' starting second baseman, but he is a questionable talent that likely benefited from a high BABIP last season. He seems like a good bet to see his numbers slide. If it becomes apparent to the Marlins this spring that he is not the answer at second, it could open up playing time for Matt Downs, Nick Green or Chone Figgins.

Fifth Starter: Young right-handers Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez are believed to have spots in the rotation along with de facto ace Ricky Nolasco. That leaves Wade LeBlanc, Brad Hand, Alex Sanabia, Kevin Slowey and Tom Koehler in the mix for the fifth spot. LeBlanc is the likely favorite for the job.

Milwaukee Brewers
First Base: The Brewers are expected to use Mat Gamel at first base until Corey Hart is ready to return from the disabled list. The team also plans to give Alex Gonzalez, who is returning from a torn ACL, some work at first during spring training which could cut in to Gamel's playing time.

Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez will compete with Jean Segura for the starting job at short. The Brewers would like to see Segura emerge with the job and hold down the position for years to come, but he was underwhelming in his major league debut last season. Gonzalez gives the team a reliable, veteran option should Segura falter this spring.

Fifth Starter: Wily Peralta and Chris Narveson are expected to be the third and fourth starters for the Brewers leaving just one spot up for grabs for Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers. It is possible both could be in the rotation if Peralta struggles this spring or if Narveson suffers a setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery.

Minnesota Twins
Second Base/Shortstop: Jamey Carroll, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar are expected to compete for playing time at both second and short this spring. None of these guys offer much with the bat. Carroll is the only one that is an established major leaguer, and he figures to come out of camp with at least a partial share of one of these jobs.

Center Field: Darin Mastroianni is the favorite to start in center, but he will have to beat out prospects Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson. Mastroianni does not offer a lot with the bat, but he does have good speed and could be a cheap source of stolen bases if he wins the job. Hicks has the highest upside of this group, and would be making the jump from Double-A to the majors if he wins the job.

Right Field: The right field job is expected to be given to Chris Parmelee, barring a disastrous spring. He failed to establish himself last season in the majors, but has displayed good power throughout his time in the minors. He's a bit of a sleeper.

Fifth Starter: The Twins will have Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, Cole De Vries, Sam Deduno, Rafael Perez, P.J. Walters and Rich Harden in camp competing for the final spot in their rotation though a second spot could open up if Scott Diamond has to start the year on the disabled list. Harden would be an interesting option, but it remains to be seen if his shoulder can still handle starting. He might be ticketed for the bullpen. Gibson, one of the Twins' top prospects, may not get a real opportunity to join the rotation until later in the year as the team would like to cap his innings in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. The other options are really uninspiring, and unfortunately for Twins fans it looks like at least one of them will open the year in the rotation.

New York Mets
Outfield: Manager Terry Collins said Lucas Duda will be his starting left fielder leaving Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, Mike Baxter, Marlon Byrd and Justin Turner in competition for playing time in center and right field. It's likely the Mets employ a platoon of Nieuwenhuis and Cowgill in center with Baxter and Byrd or Turner, if he proves adequate in the outfield this spring, in right.

Closer: Manager Terry Collins named Bobby Parnell his closer after announcing that Frank Francisco would be temporarily shut down due to inflammation in his right elbow. Brandon Lyon enters camp as the next in line for saves and should be stashed in deeper leagues.

New York Yankees
Catcher: Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli will compete for playing time behind the plate this spring. Stewart offers solid defense, but little with the bat. Cervelli offers a little more with the bat, but what he provides is pretty limited. Austin Romine is expected to open the year in the minors, and could take over a share of the job later this year if the Cervelli/Stewart combo does not impress.

Fifth Starter: Ivan Nova is the heavy favorite for the job, but he'll have to hold off David Phelps this spring. Phelps looked very good in a swingman role last season, and could be a valuable sleeper if he gets an opportunity. Michael Pineda is not expected to return until midseason, but is worth stashing given his upside.

Oakland A's
Second Base: Jed Lowrie, Scott Sizemore, Jemile Weeks and Grant Green will compete for the second base job this spring. Sizemore, who is coming back from an ACL injury, and Lowrie are the favorites to win the job at second, though they are also both capable of playing third base, where Josh Donaldson may be vulnerable. It wouldn't be surprising to see both Sizemore and Lowrie in the starting lineup on Opening Day. Japanese import Hiroyuki Nakajima will open the year at short for the A's but if he struggles, Lowrie could also find playing time there.

Outfield/DH: The A's are expected to have Seth Smith and Chris Young platoon at DH, with Young also spelling Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes at times. An injury to any of these players could result in increased playing time for the other four.

Fifth Starter: Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin will compete for the final spot in the Oakland rotation. Both are solid young starters, but Straily's strikeout potential makes him the more interesting of the two for fantasy purposes.

Closer: Grant Balfour underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee this week and will miss four-to-six weeks. He hopes to be ready for Opening Day, but Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle loom as closing options in the event Balfour needs more time to recover.

Philadelphia Phillies
Left Field: Based on comments by Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. this offseason, we will assume Delmon Young is the Phillies starting right fielder, but it sounds as if he could miss the first month of the season recovering from ankle surgery. Domonic Brown, John Mayberry, Darin Ruf and Laynce Nix will all be competing for the left field job and to fill in for Young in right. Brown is the favorite to win a starting job, but if he fails to impress in camp, he could end up platooning with Mayberry or even starting the year back in the minors. Ruf's chances of winning a roster spot have improved with the news that Young is likely headed to the disabled list.

Pittsburgh Pirates
First Base: Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez will battle for playing time. The likely outcome will be a platoon with Jones on the strong side.

Right Field: Travis Snider is the favorite for the job entering camp, but he'll have to hold off Jerry Sands, Alex Presley and Jose Tabata. All of these guys are still fairly young, and have some upside, so this is a situation worth watching as the winner will be worth gambling on in drafts.

Fifth Starter: Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson and Francisco Liriano, if healthy, will compete for the fifth spot in the Pirates' rotation this spring. Liriano is questionable to be ready for the early part of the season leaving McPherson and Locke to battle for a temporary rotation spot until Liriano is ready for action. Charlie Morton, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, could be a factor later in the year. Top prospect Gerrit Cole should also be ready for a look at some point this year as well.

San Diego Padres
Catcher: Yasmani Grandal will miss the first 50 games of the season while serving his suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance leaving John Baker to compete with Nick Hundley for playing time behind the plate. Hundley, who is coming back from knee surgery, has more upside with the bat, so he should be able to carve out more playing time than Baker until Grandal returns.

Second Base: Top prospect Jedd Gyorko will be in camp with a shot to win the starting job at second. He will be competing with Logan Forsythe and Alexi Amarista. Forsythe and Amarista can have value in deeper leagues if they end up with the job, but Gyorko has the talent to make an impact in shallow leagues. If you are drafting early, Gyorko makes a nice endgame selection that could return solid value.

Starting Rotation: The Padres have two openings in their rotation this spring and have Eric Stults, Freddy Garcia, Casey Kelly, Tyson Ross, Anthony Bass, Robbie Erlin, Andrew Cashner and Tim Stauffer in camp competing for the spots. Stauffer and Cashner are both recovering from injuries and may not be full participants in camp right away. That may negatively impact their chances for a rotation spot. Outside of Cashner, who has excellent stuff but might profile better in the bullpen, Kelly, Ross and Bass are the most interesting arms here from a fantasy perspective. Kelly has flashed some skills as a prospect, but has also struggled to stay healthy. Ross has also shown some flashes of talent, but has struggled with his control. Bass was very good early last season before arm injuries derailed him. Erlin would also be worth a look, but we assume he will head to Triple-A for more work before coming up later in the year. Cory Luebke is also expected to return around midseason and should rejoin the rotation at that time. He should be stashed.

San Francisco Giants
Left Field: Gregor Blanco is the heavy favorite to open the year as the Giants' left fielder. His only real competition comes from Andres Torres, though the Giants also have Francisco Peguero in camp and may opt to see what Brett Pill can do in left this spring as well. The likely scenario is that the Giants will open the year with a platoon and Blanco will see the majority of the at-bats, being spelled by Torres when a lefty is on the mound. Brandon Belt is also expected to see the occasional start in left when Buster Posey starts at first.

Closer: Sergio Romo is the Giants' closer, but manager Bruce Bochy said he wants to be cautious with his workload. That could create some save chances for Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez this season. Bochy will likely play matchups on days when Romo is not available, giving Affeldt, Casilla and Lopez marginal value.

Seattle Mariners
First Base/DH: Manager Eric Wedge said this winter that he expects Smoak to be his starting first baseman, but the acquisition of Kendrys Morales, Mike Morse and Raul Ibanez this winter gives the Mariners options. If Smoak fails to secure the starting job at first, Morales or Morse could see more time there opening up additional at-bats for Raul Ibanez at DH or Jason Bay in left field (where Morse would play if Smoak starts at first).

Starting Rotation: The Mariners have two openings in their rotation and will have Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan, Hector Noesi, Jon Garland, Jeremy Bonderman in camp to compete with top prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Brandon Maurer. Garland and Bonderman did not pitch professionally last year, so we will need to see what they look like in camp to see if they are even realistic options for the rotation. Hultzen, Paxton, Walker and Maurer all could probably use more time in the minors, possibly leaving the Mariners to choose between Ramirez, Beavan and Noesi to fill out their rotation.

St. Louis Cardinals
Second Base: The second base job is Daniel Descalso's to lose according to general manager John Mozeliak. He will have to hold off Matt Carpenter, who worked on playing second base in the offseason.

Starting Rotation: Lance Lynn looks like a heavy favorite to take one of the two openings in the Cardinals' rotation leaving Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal to compete for the final spot. Rosenthal was outstanding in the bullpen for the Cardinals last year and the team may decide they want him back there at the start of the season. If not, he offers tremendous upside as a late-round pick in drafts. Miller, another top arm in the Cardinals' system, also has top of the rotation upside and would be worth a look if he wins the job. Kelly is an average talent, but he was solid last year as a swingman and may have a leg up on the job entering camp.

Tampa Bay Rays
Starting Rotation: Alex Cobb will have a spot in Tampa's rotation according to manager Joe Maddon. That leaves Jeff Niemann to compete with Roberto Hernandez, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi. Niemann is the strong favorite to win the job, likely leaving Hernandez in the bullpen and Archer and Odorizzi ticketed for Triple-A.

Texas Rangers
Center Field: Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry will battle for the starting center field job this spring though Julio Borbon and Leury Garcia will also be in camp competing for the job. Martin is coming off a productive year at Triple-A and has been considered the Rangers' center fielder of the future since he signed with the club after defecting from Cuba. If Martin shows enough in camp, he should be able to at least carve out a role as the strong side of a platoon with Gentry.

Fifth Starter: Martin Perez, Robbie Ross, Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch, Cody Buckel, Randy Wells and Kyle McClellan are in camp competing for the final spot in the Rangers' rotation. Tepesch and Buckel will likely start the year back in the minors. Perez made his major league debut last year, but his numbers indicate he still has some work to do in the minors. Grimm also made his debut in the majors last season, making a few starts for the Rangers. He also could use more time in the minors. Ross was solid out of the bullpen for the Rangers last season, but had been a starter in the minors prior to last season. He could emerge as a top candidate for the job, but veterans Wells and McClellan could also make a case. Colby Lewis is expected to return in the middle of the season and could take a rotation spot at that time. He's worth stashing in deeper leagues.

Toronto Blue Jays
Second Base: General manager Alex Anthopoulos said early this winter that he would like Maicer Izturis to be the Blue Jays' starting second baseman and have Emilio Bonifacio in a super utility role. Izturis and Bonifacio can both play a number of positions, making it likely that each will earn a significant number of at-bats this season regardless of who ends up the starter at second.

Washington Nationals
Catcher: Manager Davey Johnson has already indicated that Kurt Suzuki will be his starting catcher, but Wilson Ramos is the superior hitter of the two and could work his way into more of a time share with Suzuki if he has a strong camp.