The RosterResource 2021 Opening Day Roster Tracker Is Here!

Barring a last-minute decision to push back the start of the 2021 season, we are less than two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. And while there are still several notable free agents who have yet to sign and a long list of currently unemployed players who will end up competing for a job in major league camp, we’re close enough that FanGraphs’ Opening Day Roster Tracker could already be quite useful.

Here’s a quick primer on who will be in major league camp, what happens as rosters are pared down to 26 players, and how our tracker can help you keep up between now and Opening Day.

Who Is in Major League Camp?

The full squad is comprised of each team’s full 40-man roster and a group of non-roster invitees (NRI). A non-roster invitee must be added to the 40-man roster if they break camp with the major league club.

What Happens When a Player Is Officially Out of the Running for an Opening Day Roster Spot?

If a player on the 40-man roster does not make the team, they are optioned to the minors; non-roster invitees are reassigned. They will continue to prepare for the upcoming season in minor league camp. This does not, however, completely rule them out from making the Opening Day roster. Circumstances can change, usually because of injuries, and a player can be brought back after being sent down.

Many players who signed minor league free agent deals during the offseason have a clause in their contracts that allows them to opt out by a certain date (or multiple dates in some cases). If the player feels that they have a better opportunity elsewhere, they can request their release if they’re not added to the 40-man roster by their official opt-out date.

What Happens When a Player Is Injured?

If a player on the 40-man roster is not healthy enough to begin the season on the Opening Day roster, they must be placed on the MLB Injured List (7-Day, 10-Day, 15-Day, or 60-Day). The team can open a 40-man roster spot by placing a player on the 60-Day IL.

A non-roster invitee can’t be placed on the MLB Injured List. They would be reassigned to the minors and placed on the MiLB Injured List once the season begins.

How To Use the Opening Day Roster Tracker

Along with projected Opening Day status, the tracker includes projected plate appearances or innings pitched, age, position, service time, and options remaining. Those with a light brown background in the name column are on the 40-man roster; those with a white background — non-roster invitees or those on the 60-Day IL — are not.

For players not on a projected Opening Day roster, their status is listed as a candidate for the lineup, bench, lineup/bench, rotation, bullpen, or rotation/bullpen. Some prospects are only in major league camp for the experience and aren’t competing for a roster spot. I don’t differentiate between those prospects and those likely to make the roster. Until they’re reassigned to minor league camp, I assume they are candidates to make the Opening Day roster.

There are nine options in the “Projected Opening Day Status” drop-down menu:

Full Spring Training Roster: Every player in major league camp.

Projected 26-Man Roster: My current Opening Day roster projections.

NRI on Projected 26-Man Roster: There are currently 15 players on this list. That number is expected to increase substantially as veteran free agents begin to settle for minor league contracts, and as injuries occur during spring training and opportunities open up. In 2020, there were more than 80 non-roster invitees who had their contracts purchased prior to Opening Day. That total, which is extremely high, was a result of the 30-man roster maximum. When teams had a 25-man roster maximum to begin the 2019 season, 30 non-roster invitees made the Opening Day roster.

Not on Projected 26-Man Roster/Still In CampĀ 

Still In Camp

Non-Roster Invitees: There are 284 non-roster invitees included on the list as of today. This total likely represents around 35-40% of the expected total of “NRIs” who will report to major league camp.

No Longer In Camp: Players who have been optioned, reassigned, released, or placed on the Injured List.

Restricted List: Players currently on the Restricted List are not officially in camp, but could be added if reinstated.

Injured: Players who have been placed on Injured List, projected Injured List, or projected Injured List (MiLB).

Feel free to let us know what other information you’d like see on this tracker in the comments below.

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1 year ago

Thanks for your work, Jason. I hope you guys don’t keep track of how many times I’ve looked at these pages over the years.