Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Chicago Cubs: RHP Eddie Butler*
The Cubs claimed Eddie Butler off waivers from the Rockies last offseason, and the former top prospect ended up going 4-3 with a 3.95 ERA in 11 starts and two relief appearances.
While those numbers might look good on the surface, he backed them with a 4.66 FIP, 1.43 WHIP and a 30-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54.2 innings.
He also averaged just 4.2 innings per start.
The 26-year-old will either need to carve out a role as a multi-inning reliever or risk being exposed to the waiver wire once again, as it’s unlikely he’ll get another chance to start in Chicago beyond spot duty.
Cincinnati Reds: IF Dilson Herrera*
It looked like Dilson Herrera had a chance to be the second baseman of the future for the Reds when he was acquired from the Mets in exchange for Jay Bruce.
After posting a .791 OPS with 24 doubles and 15 home runs at Triple-A in 2016, he was slowed by a bum shoulder this past season and eventually underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips at the end of July.
Meanwhile, waiver pickup Scooter Gennett came out of nowhere with a 124 OPS+ and 27 home runs to seize the everyday second base job and he’s under team control through 2019.
Herrera could break camp in a utility role simply to keep from exposing him to waivers, but he has a lot to prove if he still has his sights set on the everyday second base gig.
Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Junior Guerra*
There was perhaps no bigger surprise during the 2016 season than Junior Guerra, who went 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 4.0 WAR in 20 starts as a 30-year-old rookie.
That earned him the Opening Day start last season, but he suffered a calf injury in that game that would sideline him for nearly two months. He was never able to get things going once he returned.
Guerra eventually ended up spending the final month of the season pitching out of the bullpen, where he saw his strikeout rate spike to 17.6 K/9, but it came at the cost of a 6.23 ERA.
He’ll be facing an uphill battle this spring to claim a rotation spot.
Pittsburgh Pirates: IF Max Moroff
A 16th-round pick in 2012, Max Moroff turned some heads last season when he posted a .909 OPS with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 228 plate appearances for Triple-A Indianapolis.
The 24-year-old still has two minor league options left, so he’s not facing the same roster crunch as a lot of the players highlighted here. But there will be a sense of urgency this spring all the same.
Aside from competing with Adam Frazier, Sean Rodriguez and Chris Bostick for a spot on the 2018 bench, there’s also a wave of middle infield prospect talent rapidly approaching the majors led by Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer.
Moroff needs to do something to separate himself from the pack or he’ll risk being lost in the shuffle.
St. Louis Cardinals: OF Randal Grichuk*
With a .488 slugging percentage and more extra-base hits (163) than singles (158) during his time in the majors, there’s no denying that Randal Grichuk is capable of being an impact offensive player.
At the same time, a .249 average and .297 on-base percentage speak to a player who has yet to develop the approach needed to sustain success at the MLB level.
With Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty joined by prospects Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader and Magneuris Sierra—all of whom are ready for an extended look in the majors—there’s a logjam in the outfield.
Grichuk is the name that “comes up the most often” in trade talks, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Given his 30-homer potential, ability to play center field and team control through 2020, it’s no surprise teams are looking to buy low on his upside.