Before plowing on with the Toledo roster, we need to set some ground rules with the players who can't be sent directly to the minors, for whatever reason. On the pitching side of the ball, this includes Dontrelle Willis, who has options but can't be sent to the minors without his approval, and Macay McBride, who is out of options and must clear waivers. On the offensive side, Mike Hessman missed the projected cut and is out of options. Brent Clevlen, as well, is out of options and must clear waivers.
The timing of when these players are cut makes a difference. Because clearing waivers take three days and being designated for assignment can take ten, a player DFA'd the day before opening day may not be available on opening day.
However, I'm just going to go ahead and assume that each player will be available for the minor league rosters. Most players who are out of options clear waivers during the season, because the claiming team also must keep them on the Major League roster. Hessman has cleared waivers in the past, and I don't see much of a demand for Clevlen* on the waiver wire. McBride could have issues clearing, but given the lack of demand for lefty relievers in the free agent market, I'm not sure he'd be claimed. That brings us to Willis, who was just touched up for four runs in his inning plus of work in his spring debut. The assumption I am making is that he will accept optional assignment because I project him to continue to struggle this spring. I still haven't ruled out the possibility of the Tigers eating his salary.
*On a side note, I listened to yesterday's game and the Nationals' radio broadcaster repeatedly pronounced Clevlen's name with a short E, making a point that it is not pronounced like the city. Except for the fact that it is. I thought it was funny. I would also like to thank Joe Posnanski for popularizing the asterisk induced sidenote. It's a nice touch.
One more thing, I am assuming James Skelton is not returning. While the Diamondbacks' inability to trade Miguel Montero hurts his chances of making the roster, I am still projecting him to stick with them.
So, with all of these players available, here's an initial projection for the Toledo roster.
A lot can change between now and opening day. In the rotation, Christensen is the only 2008 Erie starter to make the jump. I had to cut the relievers down from 15 to 7. That could have been done in any way. Some notable missing players include Scott Williamson (projected retirement), Brendan Wise/Matt Rusch (Erie), Jason Miller (lefty overload), and Ron Chiviacci (projected cut). I included players like Jon Huber and Nick Regilio, because late signings tend to be more likely to make the team.
On the offensive side of the ball, I went with 12 players because Toledo has historically done this. Don Kelly makes the team because of his flexibility. However, with Rhymes, Worth, and Hollimon here, Kelly may be an odd man out. I initially had Casper Wells pencilled in, but there didn't appear to be enough playing time to go around for him, and he seems most likely among these outfielders to be held back in Erie. Remember, Brent Clevlen still has to clear waivers, so things can change.