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Who will be the Tigers' 2016 rookie of the year?

There aren't very many options.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Tigers' rookie of the year was obvious: they started the year relying on James McCann to supplement an oft-injured Alex Avila, and by season's end McCann was the starter. No other rookie was counted on for a role of any importance, so it was obvious both before the season and after that McCann was the Tigers' top rookie.

But McCann is no longer eligible, and the expected Opening Day roster -- which is surprisingly predictable -- doesn’t include a single rookie. A team with zero rookies on the 25-man roster is rare, but the Tigers did it in 2013 as well. Needless to say, you can bet on seeing a few call-ups in a Tigers uniform throughout the season.

Probably the most likely call-up, for any team, is the sixth starter. A starting rotation rarely survives a 162-game season, and teams’ top arms in Triple-A are essentially an extension of their big-league roster. The Tigers’ top candidates for the role are Shane Greene, Matt Boyd, and Michael Fulmer, but only Fulmer has retained his rookie eligibility.

Fulmer is the Tigers’ near-unanimous top prospect after posting outstanding numbers for the Double-A squads of the Mets and Tigers last season. Most scouts agree he is major-league ready, but the organization will probably want to see how he handles more mature hitters in Toledo before giving him a shot under the bright lights. If he thrives, he could easily leapfrog his more seasoned competition and grab the inevitable injury replacement role.

Similarly, any injury to a starting position player usually triggers the promotion of a bench player to an everyday role, and a call-up to fill the vacancy on the bench. First in line is probably Tyler Collins, who lost his rookie eligibility last year. Steven Moya could make an appearance as well, and his rookie status is intact. Moya is the type of player capable of getting hot and knocking numerous baseballs long distances -- remember how fun Brennan Boesch was for a minute? -- and if he does he could win the award in a walk. Not that Moya would ever dream of walking.

If an injury were to strike Cameron Maybin or Anthony Gose, specifically, the Tigers may opt for a replacement capable of playing center field, something Collins and Moya should never be asked to do. Wynton Bernard could get the call, but with two established players above him on the depth chart, it’s unlikely he’d get enough playing time to make a significant impact.

The Tigers have shown an intense affinity for utility infielders recently, carrying two of them on the bench whenever possible. If an infielder goes down, the Tigers could certainly survive without calling up an infielder in response, but they may be too tempted by Dixon Machado. Tigers fans got a taste of Machado’s game last season as he flashed the leather at shortstop but hit an uninspiring .235/.307/.279 in 78 plate appearances. The glove is major-league ready, but the bat lags behind. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Machado get the playing time necessary to make an impact, the bigger question being whether he can hit well enough.

Other candidates can be found in the depths of the relief corp, including Angel Nesbitt, who won a roster spot out of spring training last year only to be sent back down for the remainder of the season. Jeff Ferrell, Jose Valdez, and Montreal Robertson are also competing for a bullpen spot, though it’s unlikely any have the talent necessary to be major contributors. Joe Jimenez may have the talent, but probably isn’t ready for the major leagues.