We're less than a week away from Opening Day, and there are still several significant roster battles left to play out for the Rockies.
The fourth AND fifth outfielders are still up in the air, as is at least one infield bench spot. In addition, the team doesn't appear to have settled on a backup catcher and at least one -- if not two -- bullpen spots are available for the taking.
And that's assuming that Franklin Morales has won the No. 5 starter job, which isn't official, yet, but looks to be the case.
All of these battles are interesting, but the one that holds the most weight for me right now is the fight for the last front-end bullpen spot or two, which could be affected by a couple of different scenarios. First, Rockies assistant general manager Bill Geivett told fans last week that the team will start the season with seven relievers but is not opposed to carrying eight when the situation warrants itself. That ties into the second scenario, which is that left-hander Boone Logan has made only one Cactus League appearance, and with only four spring training games left, appears primed for a stint on the disabled list.
That makes room for both Chad Bettis and Tommy Kahnle -- two of the Rockies' best stories this spring -- on the Opening Day roster. It leaves the team with only one left-handed reliever, but it also ensures the seven best-available bullpen arms are on the roster.
When Logan does come back, which could be as soon as April 5, the Rockies could decide not to replace either of those guys, but simply add Logan to the roster at the expense of a bench player -- particularly, one of the five outfielders the team appears ready to carry. Or, they'll face a tough decision on whether to work out a trade with the Yankees for Kahnle in order to keep his rights due to his status as a Rule 5 pick, which requires the Rockies to leave him on the 25-man roster for the entire season or offer him back to his former team assuming he clears waivers. Or, they could avoid all of that and simply option Bettis to the minors.
Meanwhile, there are competitors everywhere for the last couple of bench spots. Two of those are probably going to be outfielders -- one of who is almost certain to be Brandon Barnes, another guy who has made quite an impression on the Rockies this spring -- with a couple of utility-type infielders in the mix as well.
The club must decide on a backup catcher, and the addition of Michael McKenry to the roster makes me believe it's going to be him. That will force the Rockies to part with Jordan Pacheco, who is out of options and will have to be traded or subject to waivers if he doesn't make the team. Josh Rutledge is probably the lone shoe-in for a bench job, but assuming I'm right about Barnes and McKenry, that leaves two spots up for grabs.
Charlie Blackmon has an option remaining, but it doesn't appear the Rockies view him as part of their long-term plans. So, if they don't work out a trade for him, they'll probably add him to the roster. That leaves Corey Dickerson, who has been part of the team's discussions regarding their future, in Triple-A to receive consistent at-bats.
One spot is left, and it appears to be a battle between Charlie Culberson, Paul Janish and Ryan Wheeler for a utility role. All three have been impressive to varying degrees this spring. Culberson would probably be the favorite if I weren't so confident the Rockies are going to start the season with five outfielders, but as it sits now, he's the odd man out. Wheeler is already on the 40-man roster, but Janish represents the best possible insurance option for Troy Tulowitzki, as he's the only guy around that can play comparable defense at shortstop. Losing Pacheco would create an open spot on the 40-man roster, and Janish is the logical option to fill that spot and begin the season with the Rockies.
That leaves the following projected Opening Day roster:
Jorge De La Rosa
What does your version look like? Drop it in the comments.