The fourth outfielder
To start the season, veteran free agent addition Melky Cabrera looks like the front runner to be the team’s fourth outfielder. Despite Cabrera’s contract being a minor league deal, it would be a surprise to see not make the Opening Day roster. While there are questions about his defense, Cabrera still slashed a healthy .280/.335/.420 for the Cleveland Indians last season. He would also give Hurdle a switch hitter on the bench.
Reyes could be a factor here, too. But, as we covered earlier, it seems like a safe bet that Reyes will start the season at Triple-A. Veteran minor league free agent signees JB Shuck and Patrick Kivlehan also appear to be safe bets to start the year at Indianapolis.
This is a bench spot that will be impacted when Polanco returns from starting the season on the injured list. When Polanco returns to right field, Chisenhall will then move to the bench. However, if Cabrera is hitting well then the Bucs will likely carry both ex-Indian outfielders on their bench. If not, they could look to cut ties with Cabrera.
Two other names to keep an eye on with backup outfield spots are prospects Bryan Reynolds and Jason Martin. Both were acquired in offseason trades last January, and both are top-10 prospects for the Bucs. Additionally, they both hit the ball well at the Double-A level last season before being promoted to Triple-A. Both players will begin the season as starters for Indy, but do not be surprised to see either make their MLB debut at some point in 2019.