Attempting to predict a Triple-A roster in the spring can be maddening enough. Predicting next year's roster right after this year's has ended can be utter insanity.
There are so many unknowns facing the Albuquerque Isotopes for next year, so much so that almost every player who suited up for the club this season may be playing elsewhere in 2014.
Or, on the flip side, a good chunk of them could be back. Here is a position-by-position look at what may be in store for Albuquerque fans next spring.
Ten different players donned the gear behind the plate for the Isotopes this year and none of those 10 is guaranteed to return.
Drew Butera is currently on the Dodgers' 40-man roster and received a September call-up, but the all-field, no-hit backstop is believed to be out of minor-league options, meaning he cannot be sent down without clearing waivers and then he could opt out of his contract rather than return to Albuquerque.
John Baker and Damaso Espino, who both finished the year with Albuquerque, are free agents and may not return. J.R. Towles, who only played in four games before suffering a season-ending thumb injury, is also a free agent.
Matt Wallach, who played for the Isotopes early in the year before being demoted to Double-A, hit .215/.316/.284 with Chattanooga and is not guaranteed to come back. There are no other catchers from the Lookouts who seem likely to move up.
Projected players: TBD free agent, Wallach
First baseman Scott Van Slyke, second baseman Elian Herrera and shortstops Dee Gordon and Justin Sellers all have options remaining for 2014, so they could be back whether they like it or not. If anything can be gleaned from September call-ups, however, it is that players who are not recalled are oftentimes cut from the 40-man in the offseason. In that case, Herrera and Sellers could be headed elsewhere.
Van Slyke and Gordon seem likelier to return, though the Dodgers talked about trading Gordon during the season and could look to deal him again in the offseason.
Third baseman Brian Barden and first baseman Eliezer Alfonzo are free agents.
The only infielder who played well enough at Chattanooga was second baseman Rafael Ynoa (.267/.338/.370). Otherwise the Isotopes may have to fill out multiple positions via free agency or trades.
Projected players: 1B—Van Slyke, 2B—Ynoa, SS—Gordon, 3B—TBD free agent
Albuquerque's MVP, Chili Buss, seems like a good bet to return after leading the league with 100 RBI. Buss will have to be added to the Dodgers' 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 draft.
Alex Castellanos led the Isotopes with 19 home runs but he was not among the September call-ups for 40-man players, so his time with the organization could end this offseason.
Matt Angle and Tony Gwynn Jr. are free agents-to-be.
Double-A promotion candidates include a familiar face in Albuquerque native Brian Cavazos-Galvez and one of the Dodgers' top prospects, Joc Pederson. Cavazos-Galvez, who played for the Isotopes in 2012, hit .263/.303/.366 for the Lookouts.
Pederson (.278/.381/.497, 22 HR, 58 RBI, 31 steals) was an impact bat, though due to the good outfielders in Los Angeles he could be offseason trade bait.
Projected players: LF—Cavazos-Galvez, CF—Pederson, RF—Buss, backup—TBD free agent