Projecting the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster
The Opening Day roster of the Red Sox shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. Every player who appeared in the postseason last fall remains in the organization, outside of Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, and Ian Kinsler.
But there are a few spots to be decided as the Red Sox start spring training this week, particularly in the bullpen. The defending World Series champions have a strong team but aren’t without some questions that will be answered in the coming weeks.
Let’s take a look at how it could shake out in the first of what will be several versions of this exercise:
Starting lineup (9)
Andrew Benintendi LF
Mookie Betts RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
J.D. Martinez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Rafael Devers 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
Brock Holt 2B
Explanation: However the batting order shakes out, it’s clear the Sox know who’s playing what position beyond second base. It will be a good story if Dustin Pedroia is ready for Opening Day after missing all but three games last season following knee surgery. But until he arrives in camp and gets back on the field, it’s impossible to assume that. So for now, Holt is the second baseman.
Vazquez had a rough 2018 at the plate but still offers the best combination of offense and defense out of the three catchers. Moreland will platoon with Steve Pearce.
Steve Pearce 1B/DH
Eduardo Nunez INF
Sandy Leon C
Explanation: I think the Sox will break camp with a three-man bench because they play 11 games in 11 days to open the season and the starting pitchers won’t be ready for more than five innings, maybe six. They’ll need the extra bullpen arm.
Beyond that, I’m also not sure there’s another position player you can make a particularly compelling case for. My guess is they also trade Blake Swihart after a year of trying. At this point, it would be best for both sides.
Chris Sale LHP
David Price LHP
Rick Porcello RHP
Nathan Eovaldi RHP
Eduardo Rodriguez LHP
Explanation: There’s not much drama here unless somebody gets injured in camp. There will be extra focus on Sale to determine whether he is over the still-mysterious shoulder injury that hampered him in the second half and playoffs last season.
Craig Kimbrel RHP
Matt Barnes RHP
Ryan Brasier RHP
Heath Hembree RHP
Brian Johnson LHP
Hector Velazquez RHP
Brandon Workman RHP
Tyler Thornburg RHP
Explanation: Is it likely the Red Sox make a deal to bring Kimbrel back? Perhaps not. But I’ll roll the dice that he settles for a short-term contract within the next 10 days. I think the Sox might be hoping for that, too, as it’s very strange they haven’t signed even one of the low-cost veterans on the relief market.
Reliever Bobby Poyner could make the team, but Alex Cora doesn’t get caught up in needing a lefty specialist. They’ll need Johnson and Velazquez to help protect the starters for at least the first month of the season.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will not give up on Thornburg, at least not right out of camp. He seems determined to get something out of that terrible trade with Milwaukee.
Much like Pedroia, Steven Wright has to show he’s healthy and can pitch a few times a week out of the bullpen. So I’m not ready to put him on the roster yet.