Roster battles abound for rebuilding White Sox

Roster battles abound for rebuilding White Sox

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's White Sox squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.

CHICAGO -- Take a look at this educated guess for what the White Sox Opening Day roster could look like. But don't commit it to memory, and don't necessarily pick out your favorite player to follow for the season to come.

In the midst of a rebuild, pretty much anyone is fair game in terms of trade material.

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Jose Quintana is under team control for the next four years due to two team options, and stands as one of the steadiest starting pitchers in the American League. But the left-hander also might be able to secure a prospect return along the lines of what the team received for Chris Sale or Adam Eaton.

Quintana remains more focused on the Spring Training work ahead, including a stint with Colombia at the World Baseball Classic, than any rumors.

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"I heard a lot about trades this year, but I don't have control of that," Quintana said. "I'm happy to be here, and I have new teammates this year. We have some good talent this year, and I'm here. I have all of my focus on the White Sox."

Here is a breakdown of other players focused on the White Sox and roster battles for Opening Day:

Catchers: Omar Narvaez, Geovany Soto

There is no clear-cut starter between Narvaez and Soto, a non-roster invite who has past history with the White Sox. Look for Narvaez to work with Carlos Rodon and Quintana, at the minimum, with Narvaez impressing during his 34-game stint last season. Zack Collins is deemed the team's catcher of the future but almost certainly won't be ready in '17.

First base: Jose Abreu

Abreu will be working toward his fourth consecutive season of hitting at least .290, with 25 homers and 100 RBIs. He played 152 games at first base last season, compared to 109 and 115 the first two years, respectively, and should be rotated into the designated hitter spot this season a bit more frequently despite not being particularly fond of it. Abreu also will be called upon to take on more of a leadership role with this younger crew.

Outlook: Abreu, 1B, CWS

Second base: Brett Lawrie

Back on a 1-year, $3.5 million deal, the 27-year-old veteran certainly isn't a slam-dunk to win this job after his 2016 season with the White Sox ended July 21 due to various left leg injuries. Tyler Saladino's goal is to be an everyday player at one position, and he certainly proved worthy of a chance during the final two months of last year. The organization also remains high on switch-hitting Carlos Sanchez, but a healthy Lawrie, who also can play third base, should have the edge.

Shortstop: Tim Anderson

Any questions about Anderson belonging at shortstop certainly were answered in the short term during his rookie year, when he finished with six Defensive Runs Saved per Baseball Reference. He stands as one of the very few untouchables on this team and only figures to become a more potent offensive force as he gains a greater grasp of the strike zone. Saladino stands as his main backup.

Third base: Todd Frazier

Frazier wants to stay with the White Sox through the rebuild, and he wants to be one of the veteran voices in his last season before free agency. He's a true power-hitter as shown by his 40 home runs and 98 RBIs but has talked about working more to the opposite field to help improve his batting average and average with runners in scoring position. Matt Davidson also could get some looks at third.

Starting outfield: Melky Cabrera, Charlie Tilson, Avisail Garcia

Tilson hit a target of being without restrictions at the January hitters' mini-camp, but the center fielder is recovering from a torn left hamstring so his speed work during Spring Training will be something to keep an eye on. White Sox fans are not exactly enamored with Garcia defensively in right, but he will get another opportunity along with time at designated hitter.

Designated Hitter: Davidson

Davidson has rebuilt his swing over the past year and feels confident entering this season. The White Sox probably won't have a primary designated hitter, so Davidson could move to third, Frazier could move to first and Abreu to DH as a game-to-game example.

Davidson's two-homer night

Bench: Saladino, Soto, Peter Bourjos, Willy Garcia

Having Saladino's versatility across the infield makes Sanchez almost a redundancy as the 25th man. Having Avisail Garcia in right field would seem to indicate the potential need for a fifth outfielder in Willy Garcia or possibly Rymer Liriano. Bourjos is on a Minor League deal with a big league camp invite, but has a chance to split time with Tilson in center field. Leury Garcia plays the infield and outfield, while Everth Cabrera and Cody Asche remain interesting non-roster options, although 40-man room would be needed with the roster currently at 39.

Rotation: Quintana, Rodon, Miguel Gonzalez, Derek Holland, James Shields

The rotation looks set if the players remain the same. Quintana falls in line for his first career Opening Day start, with Sale having moved on to Boston, and Rodon is coming off an 8-3 showing and 3.11 ERA over his final 66 2/3 innings during his first full season in the rotation. Holland came in via a 1-year, $6 million deal, while Shields, who had a 6.77 ERA and yielded 31 homers, 139 hits and 55 walks over 114 1/3 innings with the White Sox, almost has to be better in '17.

Bullpen: David Robertson, Nate Jones, Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Giovanni Soto.

The first five on this list are veritable locks: Robertson standing as closer, followed by Jones as setup man and Putnam, Petricka and Jennings working across the late innings. Giovanni Soto might rate a slight edge as the second lefty in the bullpen behind Jennings, and Kahnle's strong finish to '16 could push him into the last spot. Also in consideration would be non-roster invites Anthony Swarzak and Cory Luebke, Rule 5 Draft addition Dylan Covey and returnees from '16 in Juan Minaya, Chris Beck and Michael Ynoa.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.