On Sunday, Major league teams announced their lists of players who will participate in summer camp, or spring training 2.0 if you prefer, with up to 60 players eligible to participate starting July 1st. By opening day on July 23rd, teams must pare that list down to 30 players to begin the abbreviated 60 game season. The Detroit Tigers have already made almost all of the necessary roster moves to select their 30 player opening day roster.
Before the month of March had ended, the Tigers optioned a dozen players who are on their 40 man roster to the minor leagues, indicating that those players would not be on the opening day roster. That left 28 players on the 40 man roster who were still in major league camp, and that did not include Michael Fulmer, who was placed on the 45 day injured list as he completes his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
The Tigers could simply take the 28 players who were still in major league camp before play was halted, activate Michael Fulmer, and add one more player to complete the 30 man roster for opening day. They could also option one or more of the 28 remaining players to create more roster space.
There were also a number of non roster invitees still in camp when the coronavirus shut everything down. These players were signed to minor league contracts with invitations to major league camp. Some are veterans such as Brandon Dixon and Jordy Mercer who have major league experience, but didn’t get a major league contract during the off season. Others are prospects still climbing the organizational ladder.
The Tigers released a list of 58 names on Sunday which included all but one of the players on the 40 man roster, plus Fulmer, plus another 18 players. The one player still on the 40 man roster who did not appear on the 60 man list is outfielder Troy Stokes Jr., who was having a strong spring training, and was the last man removed from the roster in March. One report indicated that Stokes was left off due to a hand injury.
The list of non roster players includes the Tigers’ top pitching prospects- Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, and Alex Faedo. Newly drafted Spencer Torkelson and recent No 1 selections Riley Greene and Derek Hill will join them. These players will not be on the opening day roster, but have been selected to train in Toledo.
Michael Fulmer is reported to be ready to pitch. We will see how he looks during the three weeks before the season starts. When he is activated from the injured list, another player will have to come off the 40 man roster. The same holds true for adding any player who is on the 60 man list but not on the 40 man roster. That means releasing or putting another player through waivers.
Major League Roster
Here are the 28 players who were still on the major league roster when the virus struck.
Austin Romine, Eric Haase, Grayson Greiner
Matt Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, Daniel Norris, Jordan Zimmermann, Ivan Nova
Joe Jimenez, Buck Farmer, Tyler Alexander, David McKay, Rony Garcia, Bryan Garcia, Gregory Soto, Jose Cisnero
Miguel Cabrera, C J Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Niko Goodrum, Jeimer Candelario, Harold Castro, Dawel Lugo
Cameron Maybin, Victor Reyes, Christin Stewart, Jacoby Jones, Travis Demeritte
Waiting in the wings
Now, here are the players on the 40 man roster who were optioned, plus those on the 60 man list.
40 man roster:
60 man list:
Brady Policelli, Dillon Dingler
40 man roster:
Beau Burrows, Franklin Perez, Anthony Castro, Kyle Funkhouser, John Schreiber
60 man list:
Tim Adelman, Dario Agrazal, Nolan Blackwood, Shao Chin Chiang, Alex Faedo, Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Nick Ramirez, Hector Santiago, Zack Godley
40 man roster: Isaac Paredes, Willi Castro, Sergio Alcantara
60 man list: Brandon Dixon, Jordy Mercer, Schwindel, Spencer Torkelson
40 man roster: Derek Hill,
Troy Stokes, Daz Cameron
60 man list: Jorge Bonifacio, Riley Greene
The Taxi Squad
Teams can bring one extra catcher on the taxi squad to serve as the bullpen catcher for home and away games. They can also bring two other players on the taxi squad for road games who are not on the major league roster. Detroit currently has three catchers on the major league roster, so they may decide to start the season with all three, or option one of them to create a spot for another player.
The major league roster must be reduced from 30 to 28 players after 14 days, and then to 26 players after another two weeks. Keeping three catchers for the first two weeks, then optioning one of them is a plausible strategy.
Removing a player from the 40 man roster or the 60 man list comes with the risk of losing the player. Players on the 45 day injured list or the new COVID 19 list can be replaced.
Which player(s) the Tigers might add to the major league roster to get to 30 for opening day is an open question. First, they need to see if Fulmer will start the season in the rotation. and let the dominos fall from there.