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Predicting Red Sox's 2020 Opening Day roster

@IanMBrowne
November 5, 2019

BOSTON -- Now that the World Series is over, the Red Sox, led by new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, can start shaping the roster for 2020. It is never too early for projections, so MLB.com will take its first crack at speculating what the 26-man roster will look like

BOSTON -- Now that the World Series is over, the Red Sox, led by new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, can start shaping the roster for 2020.

It is never too early for projections, so MLB.com will take its first crack at speculating what the 26-man roster will look like when Boston open its season in Toronto on March 26.

Catcher
Locks: Christian Vázquez
Possibilities: Free agent/trade
Vázquez has established himself as Boston’s lockdown No. 1 catcher after a tremendous 2019 season at the plate. Sandy Leon, part of the catching tandem since '15, is a prime candidate to be non-tendered. While Leon is a respected game-caller and defender, the Sox simply haven’t received enough from him offensively in a couple of years. Look for Boston to sign or trade for a veteran to back up Vázquez.

Infield
Locks: Michael Chavis, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers
Possibilities: Bobby Dalbec, Mitch Moreland, Brock Holt, Sam Travis, free agent/trade
After belting 27 homers in the Minors last season, Dalbec could get a chance to earn a roster spot in Spring Training. Though Devers has third base locked down for the next several seasons, first base could be wide open for Dalbec to earn some at-bats. Chavis and Travis will also jockey for playing time at first. Though Moreland and Holt are both free agents, they are respected veterans who could be back at the right price. If Holt doesn’t return, Chavis might have a chance to be the primary second baseman. In that case, Bloom would likely look for a left-handed bat to complement him.

Outfield
Locks: Andrew Benintendi
Possibilities: Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, free agent/trade
Bradley and Betts are both under contract for one more season, which means both could be trade candidates in an offseason in which Boston is trying to trim payroll below the first competitive balance tax threshold of $208 million. For Bloom to trade Betts, a generational-type talent, it would have to be for a monster haul that includes top prospects. If Betts does stay with the Sox, it would be more likely that Bradley could be dealt. In that case, Benintendi could move to his natural position in center field and a new acquisition or even Dalbec could play left.

Designated hitter
Locks: J.D. Martinez
Possibilities: none
Martinez reportedly decided not to exercise his contract's opt-out clause, so the Red Sox will have one of the most productive bats in the game in the middle of their lineup for a third straight season.

Starting rotation
Locks: Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi
Possibilities: David Price, free agent/trade
With a $32 million price tag for the next three seasons, Price could be dangled in a trade. To move him, the Sox would likely have to absorb a significant chunk of his remaining salary. Given Bloom’s history of roster efficiency, the idea of three pitchers in the starting rotation earning $79 million doesn’t figure to be appetizing. Bloom will also need to replace Rick Porcello, who is a free agent. The only way Porcello would come back after the worst season of his career is if he takes a significant discount from the $20.625 million AAV he collected the last four seasons.

Bullpen
Locks: Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Marcus Walden
Possibilities: Brian Johnson, Travis Lakins, Heath Hembree, free agent/trade
Maligned as it was through the first three months of the season, Boston’s bullpen settled in once roles were defined in the second half. Workman became a strong closer who could have the opportunity to hold down the job for a full season unless Bloom adds an established closer. Hernandez and Taylor give manager Alex Cora two young and promising lefties. Hembree is a non-tender candidate and had elbow problems last season. Johnson will have to prove in Spring Training that he can get back to his 2018 form.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.