FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chief baseball officer Craig Breslow and manager Alex Cora are scheduled to meet with reporters Tuesday and the first official workout for Red Sox pitchers and catchers is Wednesday.
There are still some desirable free agents on the market including — ahem — starting pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell. But unless the Sox suddenly develop an urge to meaningfully improve, their training camp roster is set beyond the possibility of adding free agents on minor league contracts.
Given their current state, the Sox will likely prioritize roster versatility coming out of camp and their choices will reflect that mind-set. They are in evaluation mode.
There are 64 players on the roster at the moment. The latest was officially added Monday when veteran lefthander Lucas Luetge was signed to a minor league contract that would pay $1 million if he makes the major league roster.
Here’s our first projection on the 26-man roster that will arrive in Seattle for Opening Day on March 28. A reminder that teams can keep a maximum of 13 pitchers.
Rotation (5): RHP Brayan Bello, RHP Kutter Crawford, RHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Nick Pivetta, RHP Garrett Whitlock.
Analysis: Whitlock, Tanner Houck, and Josh Winckowski are competing for the final spot. All three have performed considerably better as relievers than starters, Winckowski in particular.
Give the edge to Whitlock, who has enough of a pitch mix to succeed in the rotation.
Red Sox starters had a 4.68 ERA last season, fourth highest in the American League. But the only changes made were to trade Chris Sale and sign Giolito, who was 19-24 with a 4.89 ERA the previous two seasons.
He received Cy Young votes the previous three seasons and had a 3.47 ERA. That’s who the Sox believe they can recapture.
Bullpen (8): LHP Brennan Bernardino, RHP Tanner Houck, RHP Kenley Jansen, LHP Lucas Luetge, RHP Chris Martin, RHP John Schreiber, RHP Justin Slaten, RHP Josh Winckowski.
Analysis: There’s not much point in predicting bullpen choices as the roster will probably change two or three times on the first road trip. But project we must.
Luetge, who agreed to a minor league contract over the weekend, has a good chance to make the team. The Sox will need another lefty to use with Bernardino and the only other choices are Joe Jacques, Chris Murphy, and Brandon Walter.
The Sox made a trade to assure they would land Slaten in the Rule 5 Draft. So unless he’s overwhelmed in camp, it stands to reason the former Rangers prospect will be on the team.
Righthander Greg Weissert, obtained by the Yankees in the Alex Verdugo housecleaning, could push for a spot.
Catcher (2): Reese McGuire, Connor Wong.
Analysis: There doesn’t seem to be much competition here. Wong is holding down a starting spot until prospect Kyle Teel is deemed ready and that may not be until 2025.
Wong doesn’t add much offensively but he’s durable, competitive, and strong defensively.
Journeyman Tyler Heineman is on the 40-man roster as an insurance policy.
Outfield (5): CF-RF Wilyer Abreu, CF-LF Jarren Duran, LF-CF Tyler O’Neill, LF-RF Rob Refsnyder, LF Masataka Yoshida.
Analysis: Not sure the Red Sox have an outfielder capable of handling Fenway Park’s wide-open spaces in right field. Abreu will get a chance. Yoshida was a poor outfielder last season and maybe that will improve in his second season. It’s more likely he gets the bulk of his at-bats as the DH.
O’Neill will be a regular, likely in left, and Duran will get an opportunity to handle center field unless he is traded first.
Look for 23-year-old Ceddanne Rafaela to open the season in Triple A after being overmatched by major league pitching last season (.241/.281/.386) in 89 plate appearances. That leaves a spot for Refsnyder, who was a favorite of the previous administration.
Infield (6): 1B Triston Casas, 3B Rafael Devers, 2B Vaughn Grissom, SS Trevor Story, UTIL Pablo Reyes, 2B Enmanuel Valdez.
Analysis: Casas, Devers, Grissom, and Story have lineup spots nailed down barring injury. Reyes brings defensive versatility to the mix. Valdez is a talented hitter who needs a lot of work at second base.
Unless it’s Reyes, the Sox don’t have a backup at first base. That could open a spot for Bobby Dalbec, who inexplicably remains on the 40-man roster.
Dalbec turns 29 in June and needs a fresh start at this stage of his career. He swung the bat well in spring training last season and didn’t make the team.