FORT MYERS, Fla. — Predicting the Red Sox roster was a relatively easy task the last few years. Outside of a few spots in the bullpen, you knew who was going to make the team.
Dave Dombrowski built rosters from the top down, and that worked when the Sox won the 2018 World Series. But Chaim Bloom works from the middle out. He wants a deeper base of talent and roster flexibility.
Bloom has been on the job only since late October. But he already has filled 10 spots on the 40-man roster with players from outside the organization. It will be 11 once the Sox finish off their deal with outfielder Kevin Pillar.
There are surely more to come as Bloom works the margins to add more talent.
That makes it difficult to pick a team at the start of camp. But it’s a fun exercise, so why not?
So here is Version 1 of picking the 26-man Opening Day roster:
CATCHER (2): Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki.
Explanation: This is one position that should be pretty straightforward, barring injury.
INFIELD (6): Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Mitch Moreland (1B), Jose Peraza (2B), Michael Chavis (UT), Tzu-Wei Lin (UT).
Explanation: With Dustin Pedroia again headed to the injured list, Peraza becomes the latest second baseman. Chavis can play first, second, third, and eventually probably some outfield. Lin stayed on the 40-man roster all winter, so they see something in him.
You can expect Bobby Dalbec and C.J. Chatham to get consideration, but they’re more likely to be in-season callups for service-time purposes.
OUTFIELD (5): Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Kevin Pillar, Alex Verdugo.
Explanation: Assuming the Sox finalize a deal with Pillar in the coming days, this is a solid group even without Mookie Betts. It wouldn’t be much of a shock if Bradley gets traded before the season. The Sox lack outfield depth in Triple A, so there aren’t many options here. But John Andreoli (from St. John’s High via UConn) could get a look.
ROTATION (5): LHP Chris Sale, LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, RHP Nate Eovaldi, LHP Martin Perez, RHP Ryan Weber.
Explanation: The guess here is that Bloom will find a No. 5 starter via trade, free agency, or waiver claim. But for now we’ll go with Weber. Or the Sox could try an opener. But with 20 games in 21 days to open the season, that would strain the bullpen.
BULLPEN (8): RHP Brandon Workman, RHP Matt Barnes, LHP Josh Taylor, RHP Ryan Brasier, LHP Darwinzon Hernandez, RHP Colten Brewer, RHP Austin Brice, LHP Josh Osich,
Explanation: This is where it gets tricky. Heath Hembree is on the fence and Brasier could be, too. Brice and Osich are newcomers the Sox believe can help right away. Outside of Workman, Barnes, and Taylor, nothing can be too certain. Hernandez showed great potential last season but still has to earn a spot.