As I write we don’t know everything official yet, like who’s going to opt out for health concerns, but we know the owners have taken their ball and headed home. 

If you see a headline saying the sides have come to an agreement (and I’ve seen several using that language today), that’s not a fair representation of how this shizz went down. The players have indeed signed off on the health stuff, but it’s not clear they had a choice. Regardless, Major League Baseball’s 2020 regular season will consist of 60 games with a limit of 60 players per team, including taxi squads. 

30 looks like the opening number for active rosters, which is a bit staggering when considering in-game applications, but rosters are scheduled to decline to 26 spots by the halfway point because reasons. Might need a few new folding chairs in the bullpen. 

Making a team’s 40-man roster has always granted players an edge in getting a promotion. Every season when we’re waiting for our favorite prospects to get the call, we watch a parade of misfit toys already on the 40 get that chance first. Especially in some organizations that don’t like to toggle the 40-man. 

If you’re in a deep league, making semi-regular rounds dissecting 40-man rosters can give you a predictive edge. If you’re in any league, really, how can it hurt to know who’s likely to get called up next at a given position on a given team, no matter how anyone’s hitting or pitching?

Can’t hurt, right? 2020 will be all about maximizing short-term opportunities, so let’s take a lap around the AL Central.


Chicago White Sox

On the 40-man roster today:

C Yermin Mercedes is not a 4A player. I sincerely hope he doesn’t wind up overseas for lack of an opportunity to mash big league pitching. 2020 can’t totally redeem itself by unleashing Yermin, but a hot new Beamer could at least assuage some frustration. 

RHP Michael Kopech is coming off Tommy John surgery and might have benefitted from the extra time off. He’s got two arrows pointing up on a team looking to compete. 

RHP Dane Dunning is in a similar TJ boat but doesn’t bring the season-altering upside of Kopech. 

RHP Zack Burdi could be a stream-liever. I believe he can get you through the ninth.  

SS Danny Mendick is going to play. I can’t linger here or might write something we’d all regret. 

C/DH Zach Collins could struggle to find a chance. He’s an Encarnacion or Grandal injury from getting a look, and even then James McCann (and please be Yermin Mercedes)  is more likely to get either role. 

OF Luis Alexander Basabe is young enough at 23 to make some changes but hasn’t shown enough to warrant much optimism for this year. 

OF Micker Adolfo has the power to make a difference. He’s an immediate add in a lot of leagues the week he shows a glimpse. He’s also 23 and hasn’t shown much more than Basabe, but he had Tommy John right when it seemed to be coming together, so I’m tracking him.

Not on the forty:

RHP Jonathan Stiever would have a ways to go in a regular year but has salty enough stuff to catch a cab in 2020.

2B Nick Madrigal will be climbing draft boards as a rising asset across a short burst. Pitchers won’t have much time to adjust to rookies. I’m a little concerned he’ll get a week or so of service Mendick time, but such is life. 



On the 40-man roster today:

I’ve written a lot about LHP Scott Moss through the long off-season. I’m buying. RHP Carlos Carrasco might vacate his rotation spot for health reasons and create an area where Moss can grow. 

LHP Logan Allen has shown flashes, and if anyone can cultivate a pitcher, it’s Cleveland, but I’m not a big buyer. Would be in the running for any opportunity along with low-K RHP Jefry Rodriguez. 

RHP Triston McKenzie has lost a lot of time to injury and would only be an option if everything was clicking late in the season. 

1B Bobby Bradley will have to make more contact to help us or Cleveland. 

SS Yu Chang might not hit enough to help our game but brings a solid glove all around the diamond and could keep Arroyo from getting a job to himself if injury strikes. 

3B Christian Arroyo could always hit and makes for an interesting pick up if he gets some run.

OF Daniel Johnson has a rounded skill set with stolen base upside but faces a crowded outfield including Domingo Santana, Jake Bauers, Greg Allen, Jordan Luplow, Tyler Naquin, and Delinosaur Jr. Deshields along with Oscar Mercado and Franmil Reyes. 

OF Bradley Zimmer faces that same competition but has his own health history to overcome along the way. Might still possess plus athleticism to go with elite speed if his shoulder is healed. 

Not on the forty:

3B Nolan Jones and SS Tyler Freeman probably belong in this section, but I wouldn’t expect them to be serious options for penny pinchers at the pro level. Jones has a path if a lot goes wrong ahead of him, I suppose. 


Detroit Tigers 

Tough spot for the Motown kitties. I’m just going to ignore the non-40-man group because I doubt we’ll see any prospects of note, including Skubal, Manning and Mize. 

On the 40-man roster today:

RHP Franklin Perez is a buy in deep dynasty leagues. He came over from Houston in the Verlander deal and hasn’t had enough health to log innings in the upper minors, but he’s got the talent to hit the ground running. 

RHP Anthony Castro has been steadily improving and jumped his strikeout percent from 20.2 to 26.5 in 2019. Worth a follow in case his command comes together. 

A lot of people have been saying they wanted the Funkhouser from Kyle for a long time, but he walked 7.67 guys per nine innings in 18 AAA starts last year. Can’t get down with moves like that.

RHP Beau Burrows got blown up to a 1.53 WHIP in 15 AAA starts last year, but those balls were juiced, and it was Beau’s first marriage in that circuit. I’m not optimistic, but shizz happens.

RHP Rony Garcia was the #1 pick in this year’s Rule 5 draft, so here comes his chance whether he’s ready or not. 

3B Isaac Paredes leads a pack of infielders that won’t knock your socks off but could prove streamable in the new reality. 

SS Willi Castro slashed .301/.366/.467 as a 22-year-old in AAA before fading out during his month-long audition in Rock City. He came up through Cleveland and might have the speed to surprise. He stole 17 AAA bags and got caught four times last year. 

3B Dawel Lugo walked 2.8 percent of the time in 288 MLB plate appearances as a rookie last year but slashed .333/.370/.489 with the juicy balls. If you’re walking five percent of the time repeating AAA as a low-power 24-year-old, you might want to rethink some things. 

OF Daz Cameron came over from Houston with Perez in the Verlander trade and has been similarly underwhelming, just without the injuries to explain it. He’s still just 23, but he’s not the amazing athlete some have made him out to be, and an 84 wRC+ at AAA isn’t going to move anyone’s needle. 

OF Travis Demeritte has power and patience and figures to make the Opening Day 30. 

OF Derek Hill finally translated some athleticism to power in AA last year, finishing with 14 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 526 plate appearances. He strikes out a bit much but plays strong defense in centerfield and has the most promising five-by-five fantasy profile of this outfield set. 

OF Troy Stokes Jr. ran out of time in Milwaukee but gets a new lease on life in Detroit. Would probably be smart to go month-to-month on that. 


Kansas City Royals

Do the Royals push the pitching up? 

Would you?

They’ve gotten a lot of good press for being less scuzzy than their peer group. Seems like a good time to capitalize and see what the young arms can do. 

On the 40-man roster today:

RHP Stephen Woods Jr. logged a 1.88 ERA for the Rays A+ club as a 24-year-old coming off labrum troubles and got himself selected 4th overall in this winter’s Rule 5 Draft. He’s got a knack for limiting home runs and will certainly get his chance if healthy. 

RHP Carlos Hernandez is 23 and hasn’t cleared A-ball, but he’s got good stuff and remains a legit prospect. 

RHP Jesse Hahn. Remember him? He’s 30 now and struggles to throw strikes. 

RHP Kyle Zimmer. Remember him? He’s 28 now and struggles to throw strikes. 

RHP Trevor Rosenthal. 30. Back together with Mike Matheny. Decent chance to find the ninth. 

1B Ryan McBroom can hit. I think he’ll find a role. 

OF Brett Phillips has struggled to hit but does everything else well. 

3B Kelvin Gutierrez isn’t a star, but he’s been an efficient base stealer throughout his career and has always shown a decent hit tool. 

OF Nick Heath would be a must-own in many leagues if he got some playing time. He stole 60 bases across AA and AAA as a 25-year-old in 2019. 

Not on the forty:

RHPs Jackson Kowar, Brady Singer, and Jonathan Bowlan could all lay claim to a rotation spot if they got the chance when they were in rhythm. 

LHP Daniel Lynch hasn’t pitched above A+ but has thrown well against good competition and would be a weapon in the middle innings. 

LHP Asa Lacy seems an unlikely option but would be a lot of fun. 


Minnesota Twins

On the 40-man roster today:

RHP Jhoan Duran is nasty, pumping high 90’s heat and bullying lefties with sharp cutters. I’m excited to see what he can do and confident he’ll get a big league chance. 

LHP Lewis Thorpe debuted in 2019 and might have enough lefty funk to snag some wins. 

RHP Jorge Alcala started 16 games at AA last year but figures to pitch in relief moving forward, where his plus fastball/slider combination plays up and covers for his middling command. 

SS Nick Gordon has been mostly meh so far but could steal some bags. 

3B Travis Blankenhorn could hit some bombs but seems unlikely to play given the club’s infield depth.

OF Lamonte Wade Jr. has good patience at the plate but hasn’t shown much more than that. 

OF Jake Cave of the Bad Seeds has proven the skill to hit a bit in the bigs and will get some chances this year. 

OF Gilberto Celestino is interesting in the long run but has only played 11 games above A ball.

Not on the forty: 

RHP Jordan Balazovic should be in the taxi buckled in tight because he’s just 21 and hasn’t reached AA, but I think he’d be ready to hop out and help in a pinch. 

1B Alex Kirilloff and OF Trevor Larnach haven’t posted gaudy countables or played in AAA, but both are ready for the top challenge, especially if it’s a brief stint to cover a couple covid weeks. 


Before I bounce I want to mention I missed OF Christopher Cespedes on the Orioles last week, selected 2nd overall in the AAA phase of the Rule 5 draft. Should be a taxi guy with enough power to help in our game if it comes together for him.

Thanks for reading! I’m @theprospectitch on Reddit and Twitter.