Projecting the AL All-Star roster

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Following yesterday’s attempt at the guessing the NL roster, here’s a preview of the potential AL All-Star roster.

Catchers

Starter: Joe Mauer
Backups: Victor Martinez

Martinez is listed as a catcher on the ballot, so he’s the obvious
choice to back up Mauer. If the AL goes with three catchers, then Jason
Varitek and Mike Napoli would enter the mix. It wouldn’t surprise me to
see Varitek end up as the 32nd player on the team by virtue of the Fan
Vote.

First basemen

Starter: Kevin Youkilis
Backups: Justin Morneau, Mark Teixeira

Youkilis currently has 600k votes to 506k for Teixeira and 483k for
Morneau. Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Pena are also awfully deserving, but
there’s only going to be room for three with the game in an NL park and
no DH available.

Second basemen

Starter: Ian Kinsler
Backup: Aaron Hill, Dustin Pedroia

Kinsler currently has a 146,000-vote lead on last year’s AL MVP.
Pedroia isn’t playing quite as well now as he did last year, but he
still deserves to go. I’m guessing three second basemen will be carried
at the expense of a third shortstop. If not, then perhaps Pedroia will
win the Fan Vote.

Third basemen

Starter: Evan Longoria
Backup: Brandon Inge

I’d actually be in favor of carrying just the one third baseman and
letting Longoria play the whole game if it meant that Cabrera would
make the team. Actually, the best-case scenario would have Morneau
overtaking Youkilis at first, so Youkilis could replace Longoria at
third during the contest.

Of course, there will be an actual backup at third. Inge, Mike Lowell
and Michael Young all look like rather equivalent candidates, and Mark
DeRosa could be the token Indian if Victor Martinez somehow gets passed
over. I don’t think Alex Rodriguez will be rewarded with a spot.

Shortstops

Starter: Derek Jeter
Backup: Jason Bartlett

Jeter is just behind Longoria for the overall lead in votes. Both
Bartlett and Marco Scutaro have built really strong cases for making
the team, but I think there’s only room for one. Bartlett would seem to
have the edge unless he spends more time than expected on the disabled
list.

Outfielders

Starters: Jason Bay, Josh Hamilton, Ichiro Suzuki
Backups: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Adam Jones, Johnny Damon

Ichiro has 28,000 votes on Ken Griffey Jr. and 41,000 on Crawford
for the third outfield spot. It’d be quite a surprise if he’s
overtaken, especially with the way he’s heating up.

Jones gets the nod over Nick Markakis as the token Oriole. Nelson
Cruz and Jermaine Dye look like the top alternates now, though Curtis
Granderson would still be a possibility if he keeps hitting homers.

Pitchers

Starters: Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Edwin Jackson, Joe Saunders
Relievers: Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Frank Francisco, Andrew Bailey, Joe Nathan, Scott Downs

Greinke and Halladay should be definites, but the rest of the
pitchers will partly depend on who works the Sunday before the game and
who doesn’t. I expect that either Buehrle or Bobby Jenks will go as the
lone member of the White Sox, though Dye would be an option in the
outfield. Andrew Bailey makes sense as the only Athletic.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.

Report: Rangers agree to six-year extension with Rougned Odor

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The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.

It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.

According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.