Brewers 2024 Opening Day roster projection 2.0: Much still to decide on the infield

Where else to roster battles still remain for Brewers players hoping to be in the dugout on Opening Day?
Mar 5, 2024; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Rhys Hoskins (12) celebrates
Mar 5, 2024; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Rhys Hoskins (12) celebrates / Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers are now right around the halfway point of Cactus League play during 2024 spring training. And yet, the Opening Day roster picture for the Crew is only slightly more clear than when we started.

In general, the locks that we had on our first 2024 Opening Day roster projection haven't really changed since then. However, spring training performances, some added positional flexibility, and a key injury have resulted in potential changes elsewhere across the roster. With that in mind, it's time to take another stab at predicting who will be in the dugout come Opening Day.

Here is our second attempt at projecting the 2024 Opening Day roster for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Catchers (3) - William Contreras, Gary Sanchez, Eric Haase

In our first roster projection of the spring, we predicted that the Brewers would do something rare for them and hold three catchers to start the season. The way things have gone so far, it still feels like there's a good chance that they do that.

William Contreras is a lock to lead the way once again. Gary Sanchez is now back on the field after having the start to his spring delayed by an injury that was unrelated to the wrist ailment that prematurely ended his 2023 season. He should be good to go by Opening Day.

The question mark in the group is Eric Haase, but he's off to a blazing start this spring with a .444 average and 1.191 OPS in eight games. Brewers manager Pat Murphy was also quoted as saying he'd "want him to be any team I'm a part of," which may indicate that the 31-year-old has an inside track on an Opening Day roster spot.

Infielders (5) - Rhys Hoskins, Brice Turang, Willy Adames, Owen Miller, Joey Ortiz

The infield was bound to be the most difficult position group to predict going into 2024 Opening Day. A couple weeks into Cactus League play, that hasn't really changed as there are only three players who could be considered locks on the infield.

First baseman Rhys Hoskins, likely to be the team's cleanup hitter in 2024, and Willy Adames, the team's starting shortstop for at least one more year, are two of those locks. According to Murphy, you can add second baseman Brice Turang to that group as he's expected to "take a quantum leap."

That leaves third base and utility infielder left to sort out. Based on some more of Murphy's comments this week, outfielder Sal Frelick is very likely to factor into the equation at third quite a bit, which changes things up since we last looked at the roster.

With that in mind, and taking spring performance into account, we're giving the other two infield spots to Joey Ortiz and Owen Miller. Ortiz would provide a solid compliment to Frelick at third, one with elite defense, and Miller would provide backup for Hoskins at first, not to mention other infield positions.

That would squeeze two players off the roster from our initial roster projection in Andruw Monasterio and Jake Bauers. Neither player has particularly excelled this spring and while Monasterio has minor league options left and could just start the season in Triple-A, Bauers doesn't, though he has a low price tag which means a DFA wouldn't be unreasonable.

Outfielders (5) - Christian Yelich, Jackson Chourio, Garrett Mitchell, Sal Frelick, Joey Wiemer

Unlike on the infield, there's little change in the outfield group from our first set of projections this spring with the exception of one addition. But that doesn't mean it isn't a group to watch as we draw closer to Opening Day.

All eyes are still on Brewers phenom Jackson Chourio and his quest to make the Opening Day roster. Though he isn't technically guaranteed a spot, he appears perfectly on pace to claim one as he's batting .314 with a .751 OPS. His strikeout numbers are up a bit, which isn't totally unexpected, but the Brewers will take that if he produces the way everyone thinks he will.

Meanwhile, Christian Yelich is now playing in Cactus League games and looks healthy and about ready to go for the regular season. Garrett Mitchell has also looked good this spring and shouldn't have to worry about his spot.

And as mentioned earlier, Frelick will be worked into both the infield and outfield mixes as the team loves what he brings to the table. Because he will be spending some time on the dirt, it would make sense for Milwaukee to carry a fifth outfielder going into Opening Day.

For that, Joey Wiemer gets the call. He's had a slow start this spring as he adjusts to a new batting stance but he has as high of an offensive ceiling as anyone in the outfield not named Chourio. Plus, Blake Perkins and Chris Roller, the other outfielders on the 40-man roster, haven't been that much better, if at all.

Starting Pitchers (5) - Freddy Peralta, Jakob Junis, Colin Rea, DL Hall, Joe Ross

The starting rotation has no change at the very top with Freddy Peralta still projected to lead the way. That's not just a matter of opinion, it was already deemed fact by Brewers general manager Matt Arnold earlier this spring.

The first prediction comes at the No. 2 spot where a couple weeks ago it was made known that Wade Miley is "50-50" to be ready by Opening Day. Yesterday, he threw a bullpen but hasn't faced live hitters yet. Considering we're just over two weeks from the first game of the regular season, the prediction is that he starts the season on the injured list.

As a result, three other players are getting a shift up in the rotation. Jakob Junis moves into the two spot and Colin Rea follows him at No. 3. DL Hall, who the team is committed to working out at starter, comes in behind them in fourth.

That leaves a number of candidates vying for the temporary No. 5 starter role. For now, we'll go with minor league option-less Joe Ross. While he has given up some runs in his quest to return to the majors for the first time since 2021, he was stretched out to three innings in his last outing, following the track of some other projected starters.

There is still a chance that, like our original prediction, Ross makes the roster but as a reliever. If that happens, continue to keep an eye on other possible starter candidates such as Aaron Ashby and Robert Gasser or darker horse possibilities like Evan McKendry or Carlos Rodriguez.

Relief Pitchers (8) - Devin Williams, Abner Uribe, Joel Payamps, Elvis Peguero, Hoby Milner, Bryse Wilson, Trevor Megill, Thyago Vieira

The bullpen picture did receive a little scare this week when it was revealed that Devin Williams has a back issue and was seeking out a second opinion on it. The concern level from the team seems on the lower end, though, so for now he's still on the Opening Day radar.

Bullpen spots two through seven remain unchanged from our original prediction as well. While some (Bryse Wilson) are farther down the ERA spectrum than others (Joel Payamps) this spring, there is plenty of time for everything to resolve itself by the time the regular season rolls around.

With Ross moving to the rotation here, that leaves another spot open in the bullpen for Opening Day. Thyago Vieira gets the call here. Not only would he add some heat to the relief corps, he's one of a number of players with no minor league options remaining that the Brewers might just want to keep around if they can.

15 Cactus League games remain for players to try and win a spot on the 2024 Opening Day roster. That's not a lot of time before Brewers fans get to see regular season games again, but plenty of time for some underdogs to make a run and change the projections one more time before the spring is over.