Rockies Insider: With expanded rosters likely, here’s who has a better chance to make the team

The Major League Baseball owners’ proposal for an amended 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic calls for expanded rosters, seeing as MLB will be trying to cram in as many games as possible if/when the schedule begins.

That means instead of the typical 26-man roster, teams will be allowed to carry as many as 30 active players, with an additional 20-man “taxi squad” consisting of top minor league prospects. So, while the pandemic could prove detrimental to players in the lower minors leagues who might see their seasons wiped out completely, in the case of expanded rosters for 2020, more “on the bubble” players are going to have their shot at the majors than ever before.

Here’s a look at the players who could find themselves with the Rockies this season, rather than in Triple-A Albuquerque or being waived or released, thanks to expanded rosters.

Jeff Hoffman

The right-hander came into spring training needing to impress to earn a job at the back end of the rotation but failed to do that, posting a 6.35 ERA in three appearances before the shutdown. Out of options, expanded rosters could prolong Hoffman’s time with the club, as Colorado will need ample starting pitching with a condensed schedule.

Josh Fuentes

With the universal designated hitter likely in play in 2020 as another aspect of the owners’ proposal, Fuentes — who was probable to start in Triple-A — would be a viable defensive option at the corner infield spots behind cousin Nolan Arenado at third base, or at first base behind starter Daniel Murphy and backup Ryan McMahon.

Ubaldo Jimenez

Back with the Rockies as a non-roster invitee this spring, the 36-year-old right-hander’s attempt to get back into baseball after a couple of years off is a big challenge. He posted a 8.44 ERA in three games (two starts) during the spring, but just like Hoffman, he could find himself on the major league roster if Colorado needs a surplus of starters.

Jesus Tinoco

Tinoco, who posted a 4.75 ERA in 24 appearances last season, was on the bubble for a spot in the bullpen this spring. That means expanded rosters will surely buoy the right-hander’s chances of returning to the majors in 2020 as one of several middle-relief options alongside still-developing Yency Almonte, Carlos Estevez and Jairo Diaz.

Yonathan Daza

The outfielder was up and down with Colorado from Triple-A last season after making his debut in April. The odd man out in an already-packed outfield, Daza could find himself as a backup to David Dahl in center, or as another platoon option at the corner spots alongside Raimel Tapia and much-hyped rookie Sam Hilliard.

James Pazos

Another potential bullpen arm on the 40-man roster, the Rockies acquired Pazos via trade with the Phillies last April. He had a 1.74 ERA in a dozen appearances for Colorado in 2019, and his chances to be on the Rockies’ expanded roster for 2020 are decent considering the bullpen doesn’t have a lot of left-handers to begin with.

Ben Bowden

Another left-hander, Bowden dominated Double-A Hartford last year with a 1.05 ERA in 26 games, earning a spot in the All-Star Futures Game. But Triple-A was more of a struggle — 5.88 ERA in 22 appearances — and Bowden was sidelined during spring training due to a back injury. But, he may be the most talented of Colorado’s bullpen prospects.

Jose Mujica

Formerly a top prospect with the Rays before his career was derailed by Tommy John, the Rockies signed Mujica to a free-agent deal in the offseason and promptly put him on the 40-man roster. He posted an unsightly 15.00 ERA in three spring training outings, but could find himself in the majors if Colorado is pressed for effective bullpen arms.

— Kyle Newman, The Denver Post

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Get in Touch

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