How Sox's Opening Day roster is shaping up
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Three weeks from Wednesday, the Red Sox will be in Seattle for a workout on the day before an Opening Day matchup against the Mariners. At that point, Boston should have its 25-man roster finalized.
Here at MLB.com, we try to stay ahead of the curve and let you know what that roster will look like. At the start of Spring Training, we took an initial projection.
Now it's time to come back with a couple updates for the defending World Series champions.
Catcher (2): Christian Vázquez, Blake Swihart
What changed? Nothing yet, but do stay tuned. Veteran Sandy Leon, Boston's best defender behind the plate, remains in camp. Before Spring Training ends, one of the three catchers is likely to be traded. Leon could make sense for the Royals, who are looking for a defensive-oriented catcher to replace the injured Salvador Perez. Swihart has the most offensive upside of the three, which means he might be able to bring back the most in a trade. This situation is very fluid.
First base (2): Mitch Moreland, Steve Pearce
What changed? Status quo. The Red Sox like the platoon they have in this veteran duo. Moreland will start against most right-handed starters, while Pearce will start against all lefties. Prospect Michael Chavis has had an impressive camp and could step in if there is an injury.
Second base (1): Dustin Pedroia
What changed? Nothing yet, but all eyes are on Pedroia and will be throughout Spring Training. A left knee injury held him to just three games in 2018, and the Red Sox won’t truly know the status of his health until the end of camp. Pedroia will make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday. If he isn’t ready for the start of the season, the Red Sox have two good veteran options to fill in with Brock Holt and Eduardo Núñez.
Third base (1): Rafael Devers
What changed? Nothing. Devers is in fantastic shape, and he looks primed to take a step forward after his injuries and inconsistency of a year ago. In fact, the 22-year-old probably has the best chance of any Boston hitter to have a breakout season.
Shortstop (1): Xander Bogaerts
What changed? Status quo. The Red Sox have one of the best offensive shortstops in the game for at least one more season. Bogaerts is eligible for free agency at the end of 2019, but Boston is hopeful it can extend him long term. Hitting behind J.D. Martinez, Bogaerts should be in line for another season of 100-plus RBIs.
Outfield (4): Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Martinez
What changed? Everyone is healthy, which is all that matters. The Red Sox have the best quartet of outfielders in the game. Benintendi, Bradley and Betts are all perennial Gold Glove Award candidates. Bradley spent the offseason revamping his swing with a launch-angle master and could be in line for his best offensive season. Martinez will probably stick with last year’s schedule of playing roughly 40 games in the outfield and the rest as Boston's designated hitter.
Utility (2): Nunez, Holt
What changed? Nunez is much healthier than he was last year, when his right knee was balky the entire season. This is important, because it should allow him to be the type of offensive threat he was when he joined the Red Sox down the stretch in 2017. Holt is invaluable because of his solid bat and the fact he can play everywhere on the diamond except pitcher and catcher.
Starting pitcher (5): Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez
What changed? Of the group, only Rodriguez has pitched in a Grapefruit League game so far, but no alarm bells need to ring because of that. Cora has his big four veterans going at a slower pace by design because of their workload from last October. The Red Sox think they have the best starting rotation in baseball. They might be right.
Relief pitcher (7): Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, Brian Johnson, Brandon Workman, Hector Velázquez
What changed? Workman was a snub in our first crack at the roster, but he has clearly earned his spot by throwing the ball far better this spring than he was at this time last year. Last time we picked the roster, Colten Brewer made it as an upstart selection. However, his early outings have been inconsistent, and this could open the spot for a safer choice in swingman Velazquez. Don’t discount Bobby Poyner either if the Red Sox are looking for a left-on-left specialist. On Wednesday, knuckleballer Steven Wright was suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The Red Sox still haven’t settled on a closer, or whether they will even have a set closer to start the season. Barnes figures to get the most ninth-inning work, while Brasier is finally getting healthy again after a right pinkie toe infection that limited him early in camp.
So this is the 2.0 version our 25-man roster. Check back for another update later in camp.
Jackie Bradley Jr.