• For part three of this article, I will be predicting the 2023 MLB Season Opening Day rosters for the NL West.

    Other Divisions

    NL East

    NL Central

     

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    The Lineup:

    1. Mookie Betts (RF)
    2. Freddie Freeman (1B)
    3. Dansby Swanson (SS)
    4. Will Smith (C)
    5. Max Muncy (DH)
    6. Cody Bellinger (CF)
    7. Chris Taylor (RF)
    8. Miguel Vargas (3B)
    9. Gavin Lux (2B)

     

    Bench Bats:

    Austin Barnes

    Trayce Thompson

    Edwin Rios

    Justin Turner

     

    The Rotation:

    1. Julio Urias (L)
    2. Clayton Kershaw (L)
    3. Tony Gonsolin (R)
    4. Dustin May (R)
    5. Tyler Anderson (L)

     

    The Bullpen:

    CLOSER: Brusdar Graterol (R)

    Daniel Hudson (R)

    Ryan Pepiot (R)

    Caleb Ferguson (L)

    Yency Almonte (R)

    Drew Smyly (L)

    Chris Martin (R)

    Steve Cishek (R)

     

    Summary:

    Before tweeting at me (follow me @BirdRightsPod) to tell me a couple of these guys either signed elsewhere or were cut loose by the Dodgers already, I’m well aware. I put together these roster projections before any major offseason moves happened, such as Tyler Anderson signing with the Angels or Cody Bellinger being non-tendered. Let’s start with those two. When Anderson was tendered his qualifying offer, I was pretty surprised he didn’t take it, as it was worth $19,650,000. Additionally, I thought the fact that a team would have to give up a compensatory draft pick and international dollars would make it a tougher market for Anderson. Alas, the Angels reached desperately for an overachieving pitcher that will not replicate the season he just had for the Dodgers with his new LA team. Because of that, though, I had Anderson staying put and signing the qualifying offer.

     

    For Bellinger, I understand why the Dodgers did it and am not shocked that they did. However, Bellinger is three years removed from winning an MVP award, and given how much the Dodgers traditionally spend, I thought they’d give him one more shot. However, Bellinger was projected to make $18.1 million in arbitration this year, so I can’t totally say I blame the Dodgers for letting him walk. The team I’m keeping my eye on to make a play for Bellinger is the Toronto Blue Jays.

     

    Aside from Anderson and Bellinger, the big splash I have the Dodgers making is going back to the Braves well and snagging Dansby Swanson from them, just as they did with Freddie Freeman a year earlier. I have Swanson signing a six-year, $155 million deal with the Dodgers. As I mentioned in Part Two of this article when discussing Carlos Correa, who I ultimately had signing with the Cubs, it’s been reported that the Dodgers are highly interested in Correa as well despite the cheating scandal in the 2017 World Series. It appears that Trea Turner seems to have one foot out the door already and with the Dodgers potentially setting themselves up to make a run at Aaron Judge, Swanson would be the fallback option to both Turner and Judge. Next, I had Clayton Kershaw signing a one-year, $20 million deal to stay with the Dodgers. I hit the nail on the head with that one, as Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal both tweeted that $20 million is roughly the number Kershaw will sign for.

     

    With Walker Buehler recovering from Tommy John surgery, Trevor Bauer’s future up in the air, and Blake Trienen recovering from shoulder surgery, the Dodgers find themselves in a situation they aren’t usually in. They need pitching. With Tyler Anderson and Kershaw rounding out the rotation, I shifted my attention to the bullpen. The Dodgers could very easily sign a closer (perhaps a Kenley Jansen reunion?), but as of now, Brusdar Graterol is their best option to close games. For the bullpen, I had the Dodgers sign southpaw Drew Smyly to be a swingman either in long relief or he can make spot starts for them when they need an extra starter. I had Smyly signing a one-year, $5 million deal in that swingman role. I also had the Dodgers re-signing Chris Martin to a two-year, $12 million deal. Martin could be another viable option to get some save opportunities for the Dodgers. Finally, I have the Dodgers filling out the bullpen with Steve Cishek on a one-year, $3 million deal.

     

    San Diego Padres

    The Lineup:

    1. Ha-Seong Kim (SS)
    2. Juan Soto (RF)
    3. Manny Machado (3B)
    4. Yuli Gurriel (1B)
    5. Tyler O’Neill (LF)
    6. Jake Cronenworth (2B)
    7. Michael Brantley (DH)
    8. Trent Grisham (CF)
    9. Austin Nola (C)

     

    Bench Bats:

    Luis Campusano

    Fernando Tatis

    Rougned Odor

    Jackie Bradley Jr.

     

    The Rotation:

    1. Yu Darvish (R)
    2. Joe Musgrove (R)
    3. Blake Snell (L)
    4. Kodai Senga (R)
    5. Nick Martinez (R)

     

    The Bullpen:

    CLOSER: Josh Hader (L)

    Robert Suarez (R)

    Zach Davies (R)

    Drew Pomeranz (L)

    Steven Wilson (R)

    Adrian Morejon (L)

    Luis Garcia (R)

    David Phelps (R)

     

    Summary:

    I included Fernando Tatis on this roster projection even though he’s suspended for the first 25 games of the season. If anything, the Padres would probably just add another stop-gap shortstop to take Tatis’ place on the opening day roster. First, I have the Padres trading for Cardinals slugger, Tyler O’Neill. The Cardinals have a logjam in the outfield and have multiple big-league ready prospects who can replace O’Neill. O’Neill has two more years of team control and is projected to make $5.1 million in arbitration this year, so I anticipate he goes for a bit more than what the Blue Jays got for Teoscar Hernandez, but it’s the same idea. For the outfield/DH position, I thought ex-Astros Michael Brantley fit like a glove. I have Brantley signing a two-year, $24 million deal. I also have another ex-Astro signing in San Diego with Yuli Gurriel, signing a two-year, $21 million deal. Both of these guys are high OBP guys that don’t strike out a lot and get on base, which is what this lineup needs. Gurriel and Brantley can rotate at DH with Luis Campusano when they get days off from playing the field.

     

    The Padres also have Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea hitting free agency, so they have a few holes in their rotation. As a result, I brought in Japanese phenom, Kodai Senga. Senga was just posted for free agency by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Nippon Professional Baseball League and he is likely to come to the MLB this offseason. Senga is not only close friends with Padres starter Yu Darvish, but he’s also a former teammate of Padres pitchers, Nick Martinez and Robert Suarez, both of whom had major success after signing with the Padres from the Japanese league this past offseason. I have the Padres signing Senga to a five-year, $75 million deal. The fifth rotation spot will be a spring training battle between Nick Martinez, Adrian Morejon, and Zach Davies. I projected the Padres to re-sign Martinez to a three-year, $24 million deal before he signed a complicated three-year deal with both a team- and player-option in years two and three respectively. Nonetheless, Martinez is guaranteed $10 million this upcoming season. I had Zach Davies signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal to return to San Diego, where he pitched to the tune of a 2.73 ERA in the shortened 2020 COVID season. Finally, I have the Padres signing bullpen depth in David Phelps to a $2.5 million one-year pact. The Padres bullpen is pretty much set after signing Robert Suarez to a massive five-year, $46 million deal with $30 million guaranteed.

     

    San Francisco Giants

    The Lineup:

    1. LaMonte Wade Jr. (LF)
    2. Wilmer Flores (2B)
    3. Xander Bogaerts (3B)
    4. Joc Pederson (RF)
    5. Mitch Haniger (DH)
    6. Mike Yastrzemski (CF)
    7. Brandon Crawford (SS)
    8. JD Davis (1B)
    9. Joey Bart (C)

     

    Bench Bats:

    Austin Wynns

    Thairo Estrada

    Austin Slater

    Tommy La Stella

     

    The Rotation:

    1. Logan Webb (R)
    2. Alex Cobb (R)
    3. Alex Wood (L)
    4. Anthony DeSclafani (R)
    5. Noah Syndergaard (R)

     

    The Bullpen:

    Closer: Camilo Doval (R)

    Tyler Rogers (R)

    John Brebbia (R)

    Scott Alexander (L)

    Jake Junis (R)

    Michael Fulmer (R)

    Jose Alvarez (L)

    Yunior Marte (R)

     

    Summary:

    If I told Giants fan they would be signing a hometown kid this offseason, they would be jumping for joy. It’s baseball’s worst kept secret that the Giants are all-in on going after AL MVP Aaron Judge. But the hometown kid I’m referring to is ex-Mariner, Mitch Haniger. While I think Judge ultimately stays in Yankees pinstripes, Haniger and ex-Red Sox Xander Bogaerts is a hell of a consolation prize. With starting shortstop Brandon Crawford playing on an expiring deal, Bogaerts can play third base in the 2023 season before shifting over to his natural position. I have Bogaerts signing a seven-year, $203 million deal with the Giants after failing in their pursuit of Judge. I have Haniger signing a two-year, $28 million deal. If Haniger can stay healthy, the hometown kid can drastically help this offense. The Giants have the 14th most expensive payroll, but are well under the $233 million luxury tax threshold, even after signing Bogaerts and Haniger.

     

    The Giants have been one of the handful of best organizations at developing pitching talent the last few seasons, so that’s why I prioritized spending big money on hitting. However, I do have the Giants taking a stab at former ace, Noah Syndergaard. I have Syndergaard signing a three-year, $33 million deal with the Giants with an opt-out after year two. Now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, the Giants will try to catch lightning in a bottle the same way they did with other cast-off starters like Jake Junis and Alex Cobb, though the latter two did not undergo Tommy John surgery prior to signing. The Giants need to replace ace Carlos Rodon, who has had injury concerns of his own, and the Giants can bet that Syndergaard can get back to form. However, the Giants are very analytically driven, so it’s hard to say exactly which pitcher they’ll convince themselves can become an ace in this market.

     

    Finally, I have the Giants bringing back southpaw Jose Alvarez on a two-year, $5 million deal. Alvarez has pitched under manager Gabe Kapler every year since 2019 in Philadelphia, and he gives the Giants a dependable lefty that can pitch in high leverage situations. I also have the Giants signing former Tiger, Michael Fulmer to a two-year, $11 million deal. The former starter has a low 3s ERA since converting to a relief role and the Giants sign him as their long reliever.

     

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    The Lineup:

    1. Daulton Varsho (CF)
    2. Ketel Marte (2B)
    3. Jake McCarthy (RF)
    4. Christian Walker (1B)
    5. Josh Rojas (3B)
    6. Corbin Carroll (LF)
    7. Pavin Smith (DH)
    8. Carson Kelly (C)
    9. Nick Ahmed (SS)

     

    Bench Bats:

    Jose Iglesias

    Jorge Alfaro

    Kyle Lewis

    Geraldo Perdomo

     

    The Rotation:

    1. Zac Gallen (R)
    2. Merrill Kelly (R)
    3. Madison Bumgarner (L)
    4. Drey Jameson (R)
    5. Ryne Nelson (R)

     

    The Bullpen:

    Closer: Mark Melancon (R)

    Kevin Genkil (R)

    Joe Mantiply (L)

    Cole Sulser (R)

    Kyle Nelson (L)

    Corbin Martin (R)

    Michael Lorenzen (R)

    Taylor Widener (R)

     

    Summary:

    This team needs a closer desperately. For now, however, I have them still rolling with Mark Melancon. Melancon had a 4.66 ERA last year and the xERA was even worse. However, I have the Diamondbacks signing Michael Lorenzen, who can be a dual threat for them. First, the Diamondbacks will likely move Madison Bumgarner, who has two-years and $37 million guaranteed left on his deal. The D-Backs will likely have to pay most of that money if they want to move him, but if they do, Lorenzen slides nicely into the rotation. I also thought of a scenario where Lorenzen gets save opportunities, similar to the occasional opportunity he received while in Cincinnati. Let’s assume Lorenzen is the best option for the Diamondbacks to close games, then Corbin Martin can take that fifth rotation spot when necessary. However, Lorenzen made it clear he wants to be a starter, but that opportunity will need to present itself. For that reason, I have Lorenzen signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with Arizona.

     

    Both Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson had impressive debuts in their first taste of the majors. Nelson pitched to the tune of a 1.47 ERA in 18.1 IP against the Padres twice and the Dodgers and 7.85 K/9. Meanwhile, after a tough year in AAA (a 6.95 ERA in 22 games), Jameson got the call to the show and pitched 24.1 innings, had a 1.48 ERA, and an 8.88 K/9 in two games against the Giants, one against the Dodgers, and one against the Padres. Impressive stuff from both of them and it makes the one they call “MadBum” more expendable.

     

    I also have Arizona getting some insurance at shortstop by signing Jose Iglesias to a one-year, $4.5 million deal. I also have the Diamondbacks trading for catcher/outfielder Jorge Alfaro. The Padres should be ready to allow Luis Campusano get major league at bats, so in this scenario it does not take Arizona much to acquire the backstop. We also saw the Diamondbacks acquire former AL Rookie of the Year, Kyle Lewis. The D-Backs outfield is already crowded, but Lewis can be a solid fourth outfielder or platoon bat.

     

    Colorado Rockies

    The Lineup:

    1. Yonathan Daza (CF)
    2. Kris Bryant (LF)
    3. Ryan McMahon (3B)
    4. J. Cron (1B)
    5. Charlie Blackmon (DH)
    6. Randal Grichuk (RF)
    7. Brendan Rodgers (2B)
    8. Elias Diaz (C)
    9. Ezequiel Tovar (SS)

     

    Bench Bats:

    Garrett Hampson

    Connor Joe

    Kole Calhoun

    Gary Sanchez

     

     

    The Rotation:

    1. German Marquez (R)
    2. Kyle Freeland (L)
    3. Michael Wacha (R)
    4. Chad Kuhl (R)
    5. Antonio Senzatela (R)

     

    The Bullpen:

    Closer: Daniel Bard (R)

    Dinelson Lamet (R)

    Noah Davis (R)

    Lucas Gilbreath (L)

    Ryan Feltner (R)

    Austin Gomber (L)

    Carlos Estevez (R)

    Justin Lawrence (R)

     

    Summary:

    The Rockies spent their big money last offseason when they brought in former MVP, Kris Bryant. However, while I had Cody Bellinger staying with the Dodgers for this exercise, I think the Rockies are a darkhorse to sign that former MVP as well now that he’s a free agent. The major addition to the Rockies lineup, however, is top prospect Ezequiel Tovar. Tovar struggled in nine games after being called up to the majors late last year, but a sample-size that small carries almost no weight. For the bench, I have the Rockies taking fliers on two guys with above-average power that should benefit from playing in the thin air of Coors Field with Kole Calhoun and Gary Sanchez. We’ve already seen Sanchez demonstrate the power he possesses in Yankees stadium, so I have him signing a one-year, $5 million deal where he not only would have a chance to start, but can rehabilitate his value for next offseason. For Calhoun, he can be a platoon bat with either Randal Grichuk or Yonathan Daza and the Rockies could use his lefty bat. Calhoun is just three years removed from a 33 home run season, and signing with Colorado would be for the same reason as Sanchez. I have Calhoun signing a one-year pact worth $6.5 million.

     

    Ever since leaving St. Louis in 2019, Michael Wacha has bounced around the league and the Rockies would be his fourth team in four years. Wacha pitched to the tune of a 3.32 ERA for the Red Sox last year, though the xERA shows he was pretty lucky. For that reason, I wouldn’t love this fit for Wacha, but he may be the most attainable starting pitcher Colorado can get. The Rockies would also give Wacha sixteen million reasons to sign there over two years. I also have the Rockies bringing back Chad Kuhl, a guy who usually gets rocked by right-handed hitters. Colorado would give Kuhl one of the few chances to start games for them, as he started 27 games for them last season after being relegated to the Pirates’ bullpen a year earlier. I gave Kuhl a one-year, $3 million deal. Finally, I have the Rockies re-signing their best reliever in Carlos Estevez to a two-year, $9.2 million deal. Estevez would be the Rockies’ set-up man and may even close games if Daniel Bard stumbles at all.

     

    This concludes my Opening Day Roster Projections for the National League…. Be on the look out for parts 4, 5, and 6 of this article where I’ll do the same for each division in the American League!

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