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State of the 40-man roster: December 2017

MLB: AL Wild Card-Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Two months ago, I broke down the 40-man roster before the off-season began, with a view towards the 2018 season. At the time, there were 47 players on the roster, and it looked like this (see the link for how the categorization works):

40man breakdown

Since then, there have been 17 departures and 8 additions to the 40-man, resulting in the current total of 38 players. Somewhat incredibly, over one-third of the major league roster has been turned over in two months! It now breaks down as such:

40man breakdown dec-good

The free agent category is now obsolete; likewise, with the non-tender deadline now passed, the two arb-related buckets can be collapsed into one for those offered arbitration. Combined, this accounts for seven of the departures.

The remaining 10 departures unsurprisingly all came from the bubble, which was deeply trimmed. All five optionless bubble players are gone, leaving considerable roster flexibility with no fringe players who have to stick on the active roster come 2018. Additionally, five of eight bubble players with 2018 options were removed, all of whom were on the fringier end for me.

The eight additions are the five Rule 5 protectees, Taylor Guerrieri claimed on waivers, and trade acquisitions Gift Ngoepe and Aledmys Diaz (the latter three all presenting spelling challenges). Ngoepe is of course a great story, but appears a very fringe talent to me, so I’ve placed him on the bubble.

The standard caveat applies that the distinction between the the bubble and the backend of the renewals bucket (who are expected to maintain 40-man spots into the 2018 season) is subjective. Perhaps Guerrieri, having already been put on waivers this winter, should be on the bubble. Perhaps Dermody shouldn’t be there. This is sort of a blend of what I think about the players and trying to infer how they’re viewed internally by the team.

As the front office (hopefully) makes some additions, there’s a couple spots open with additionally those of Ngoepe and Maile looking particularly vulnerable to me. Beyond that, if they added an outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. is probably caught in a logjam on the depth charts and probably in danger of at least being put on waivers.

An interesting fact: fully 8 of 38 players on the 40-man roster have no MLB service time. Off the top of my head, that’s the most I can recall for the Blue Jays going back at least to the beginning of the decade.

We can likewise update the projected 25-man roster if the season started today:

2018 lineup 12/2017

(Green for players who can be unilaterally optioned in 2018; blue for those that cannot)

With the glacial start to the “hot stove”, there’s been very few changes, and all at the end of the roster with the starting lineup and rotation unchanged. Aledmys Diaz replaces Ryan Goins as the backup middle infielder, and Gift Ngoepe replaces Rob Refsnyder as the last man on the bench (for now, I’d strongly expect that to change).

The final change is Tim Mayza replacing Tom Koehler as the last guy in the bullpen, though a few of the players in the far right column such as Matt Dermody could be viable as well. Many might be tempted to insert one of the other catchers over Luke Maile, but I’ll stick with the experienced guy while expecting a veteran upgrade in the coming months.

The salary picture is a little more clear as well, as this lineup forecasts around $140-million. That’s made up of $88.4-million for the eight guaranteed contracts, $46-million forecast by MLBTR for the nine arbitration players, and $6-million for Diaz (at his minimum of $1.6-million) and the other eight pre-arb players. If, as I do, you think MLBTR is light on Donaldson and/so Osuna’s projection, perhaps add another couple million.

Bring on the Winter Meetings!