Red Sox

Projecting the Red Sox' 2020 Opening Day roster

Projecting the Red Sox' 2020 Opening Day roster

The Boston Red Sox begin their offseason with a number of question marks. We could be looking at a familiar roster in 2020, but the hiring of Chaim Bloom as Chief Baseball Officer all but confirms significant changes are about to be made.

It's still too early to get a read on which way the wind is blowing for the impactful decisions Bloom will be faced with this winter, the most important of which will be the future of superstar right fielder Mookie Betts. But as we look forward to what's sure to be an eventful offseason, we can at least take a shot at what the 25-man roster could look like come Opening Day.

Here's a look at the potential roster before free agency gains some steam in the coming weeks:

Catcher: Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon OR free agent/trade

Vazquez is locked in as Boston's starting catcher after producing the best offensive season of his career and earning a Gold Glove award nomination. The real question is who will back him up.

Leon could be non-tendered if the Red Sox ultimately decide they want more offensive production behind Vazquez on the depth chart. If Leon isn't brought back for 2020, expect Boston to sign a cheap alternative in free agency.

(Update: Leon was traded to the Cleveland Indians on December 2.)

First Base: Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec, Sam Travis, free agent/trade

Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce both are unrestricted free agents with the latter pondering retirement. It's a possibility Boston re-signs Moreland on a reasonable one-year deal, but there are some interesting alternatives.

Chavis could see a lot of playing time at first depending on how the second base situation plays out. This also could be the year we see minor league slugger Dalbec get some big-league at-bats. We should expect to see Travis in the mix too following a 2019 season in which he appeared in 59 games.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently noted one player the Red Sox could pursue to replace Moreland and Pearce is free agent Justin Smoak, who spent the last five seasons with the Blue Jays.

Second Base: Michael Chavis, Dustin Pedroia, free agent/trade

It's safe to say we probably shouldn't enter 2020 with an optimistic outlook on Pedroia, but he's on this list as a formality.

Don't rule out Brock Holt returning in free agency. Though if he doesn't, we could be looking at another year of Chavis as the team's primary second baseman.

Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts

Barring some ridiculous trade this offseason, Bogaerts is locked in as the starting shortstop for 2020 and years to come.

Third Base: Rafael Devers

Devers ain't going anywhere.

Left Field: Andrew Benintendi

We'll see what happens with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts, who we'll discuss momentarily, but for now it looks like Benintendi will again be the starting left fielder for the Red Sox as he looks to improve in 2020.

Center Field: Jackie Bradley Jr. OR free agent/trade

Here's where it starts to get interesting. Ken Rosenthal reported the Red Sox trading Bradley this offseason "seems all but certain." Bradley is set to make $11 million before he hits free agency in 2020.

For what it's worth, Rosenthal mentions Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick as a potential replacement if Bradley is moved. Of course, if Bradley isn't traded before Opening Day, he'll resume his role as the Sox' starting center fielder.

Right Field: Mookie Betts OR free agent/trade

To trade Mookie or to not trade Mookie? That is the most glaring question Bloom is faced with as he begins his Red Sox tenure.

Betts will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season if he and the Red Sox cannot come to terms on a contract extension. If Betts is adamant about testing the free-agent market, Boston could opt to move the 2018 American League MVP for a haul. That would have to be a last resort as obviously the Red Sox would prefer to keep the homegrown 27-year-old.

This will be the most compelling storyline of the offseason. For now, mark Betts down as the starting right fielder.

Designated Hitter: J.D. Martinez

Martinez decided to not opt out of his contract, so he'll be back as the Red Sox' stud DH next season unless they decide to trade him, which doesn't seem likely. The 32-year-old can block trades to three teams.

Starting Pitchers: Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, free agent/trade

The Red Sox are looking to shed payroll this offseason. One way of doing that would be to part ways with the expensive contracts of Price and/or Eovaldi. In fact, rumor has it Boston has already discussed such a deal with the Texas Rangers.

Sale, assuming he's healthy, is the clear-cut ace with Rodriguez looking to build off an impressive 2019 campaign. Rick Porcello is a free agent, so unless the Red Sox bring him back on a cheaper contract, they'll need to sign or trade for someone to replace him in the rotation.

Bullpen: Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Darwinzon Hernandez, Ryan Brasier, Josh Taylor, Marcus Walden, Brian Johnson, Travis Lakins, Heath Hembree, free agent/trade

Workman likely earned the closer role after being one of the bright spots in an otherwise bleak 2019 season. Barnes and Brasier should resume their roles as the set-up men and "spot-closers." Left-handers Hernandez and Taylor were effective down the stretch and provide hope for a more stable bullpen in 2020. There's some uncertainty in the rest of this group, including Hembree, who could be non-tendered.

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Red Sox fans won't be happy with how much the Brewers are paying Brock Holt

Red Sox fans won't be happy with how much the Brewers are paying Brock Holt

The Boston Red Sox have had a rough offseason. And on Thursday night, it got a bit rougher.

The latest news concerning the Red Sox is in relation to the contract that Brock Holt signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. Holt, a team leader who had spent almost all of his major league career with the Red Sox, left the team in free agency, but it wasn't because he wanted to leave. He wanted to be a life-long Red Sox.

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Instead, the team opted to let the 31-year-old super-utility player walk as they attempt to retool and cut costs.

But just how much is the team saving by not signing Holt? According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Holt's one-year pact with the Brewers is worth $3.25 million and has a club option for $5 million the following season.

That isn't big-time money and there's no doubt that the Red Sox could've matched that while staying under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. But instead, they opted not to bring back the fan-favorite even in the wake of the brand-damaging Betts deal.

That certainly won't please the fan base. And as a result, the Red Sox will likely roll with Jonathan Arauz and Jose Peraza, two relatively unproven players, as their utility infielders.

Arauz was a pick in the Rule 5 draft, so he has to remain on the team's 25-man major league roster for the entire year in order for the Red Sox to retain his rights. He's only 21 but hit .249 with 11 homers during stints in single and double-A last season.

As for Peraza, he was signed for $3 million during the offseason. The 25-year-old has upside as a former top Cincinnati Reds prospect who hit .288 with 14 homers in 2018. However, he regressed last season, hitting .239 with six homers, and has a career fielding percentage of .973. Comparatively, Holt's .981 fielding percentage, while largely playing the same positions as Peraza, is an upgrade.

Perhaps these potential-based moves will end up working for the Red Sox, especially if Peraza can find his power in the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway Park. But given that Holt would've only cost a bit more to retain, it's hard to understand why the team wouldn't bring him back.

At the very least, fans of the team would've been happy to see him return. And amid a tough two-month stretch for Sox, that's some goodwill they certainly could've used.

Can Red Sox win without Mookie Betts? David Ortiz has simple response

Can Red Sox win without Mookie Betts? David Ortiz has simple response

The Boston Red Sox have a tough task trying to replace the elite production Mookie Betts provided at the plate and in the outfield, but David Ortiz is confident the team will eventually plug the holes that losing an MVP-caliber player creates.

The Red Sox legend addressed reporters at JetBlue Park on Thursday and touched on a number of subjects, including a question on whether Boston can win without Betts after it traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this month.

"They won without me," Ortiz said, immediately followed by some laughs. "I'm not saying that Mookie is not a big piece of what we are here. But once that happens, you got to move on. I was part of this ballclub in 2016, and in 2018 we won, and I wasn't playing. As a player, we are a big part of a team, but we also are replaceable. I'm not saying we're going to replace Mookie tomorrow, but sometimes another player shows up and does things that help you win ballgames.

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"This organization really appreciates as a player what we bring to the table, but they also know how to fix the (weak) spots somehow, some way. Mookie put a big hole in our lineup, but I'm pretty sure the front office at some point will figure out how to cover some of the holes that we're going to have because Mookie was good hitting, he was good defensively and he was good off-the-field. It takes time to replace that, but this organization, I know, is good at that, replacing things and moving forward."

The Red Sox did bounce back well from losing Ortiz. They made the playoffs in 2017 before winning a franchise-record 108 regular season games and the World Series in 2018. The Sox also won the World Series in 2013 following a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers in 2012 that sent high-priced veterans Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and others to Los Angeles. 

Each situation is different, though, and it's hard to envision the Red Sox competing for a playoff spot in 2020 with their current roster. Boston's offense should still rank among the American League's best. The Red Sox lineup still has some formidable players, highlighted by Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. Pitching is the real issue, especially the rotation. Chris Sale's health is a concern. Rick Porcello is very inconsistent, and Eduardo Rodriguez must prove he can duplicate his excellent 2019 campaign. There are question marks throughout the bullpen as well.

The Red Sox do have some advantages when it comes to replacing Betts. Ownership hasn't been afraid to spend money, and the farm system is better now than it was at the end of last season. There are reasons to believe the Red Sox can recover, but that isn't likely to happen in 2020.

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