Taking stock of Red Sox 25-man roster as we await a blockbuster trade
The offseason is more than two months old and the Red Sox don't yet have much to show for it.
They haven't traded Mookie Betts, David Price, or Jackie Bradley, and they haven't added any players with name recognition, unless you count left-hander Martin Perez, who had that one kinda good season for Texas like seven years ago.
That said, they have quietly filled in around the margins on a roster that still projects to experience significant upheaval between now and pitchers and catchers reporting on Feb. 11. They've bulked up the middle infield, added a backup catcher, and increased the depth in their bullpen.
So where do they stand overall, and what work remains? Let's take a look.
On the roster: Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki
Here's one spot that appears set. One of Chaim Bloom's first orders of business was moving on from Sandy Leon, a decent receiver and offensive zero. He replaced him with Plawecki, a decent receiver who's an offensive two or three, which makes him an upgrade.
The backup shouldn't matter much, since Vazquez is coming off a breakout season that saw him blast a career-high 23 homers while being named a Gold Glove finalist. He appeared in 138 games and should shoulder a heavy workload again in 2020.
On the roster: Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec
Sam Travis's annual inclusion on Red Sox Top 10 prospects lists served as an indictment of the system, and Bloom made that clear when he designated the light-hitting first baseman for assignment to make room for Plawecki. The only experienced first baseman on the roster is Chavis, who must plug the hole on fastballs above his belt to secure regular playing time. Dalbec's power, as well as his nimble footwork around the bag, could earn him a look this spring if the Red Sox decide to focus their resources elsewhere this winter.
Needs: A starter. Bloom made a habit of finding productive corner bats on the cheap in Tampa, and there's no reason he shouldn't be able to do so again here, leaving Chavis in the mix for second base and Dalbec as a depth option.
On the roster: Jose Peraza, Michael Chavis
If the Red Sox have made one under-the-radar move this winter, it's Peraza, a former top prospect who was non-tendered by the Reds. Just two years removed from hitting .288 with 14 homers and 23 steals, Peraza was acquired as a utilityman who has played everywhere except catcher and first base.
But as the roster stands now, he'll have an opportunity to start at second, where Chavis acquitted himself pretty well for someone who had never played the position. One name we're not mentioning? Dustin Pedroia, because it's hard to imagine his career isn't over.
Needs: High. There are plenty of utility types here, but no true starter.
On the roster: Rafael Devers
Not much needs to be said. Devers is a burgeoning superstar who gives the Red Sox a potent 2-3-4 alongside Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. If he can become just a tiny bit more selective, watch out.
On the roster: Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Arauz
This is Bogaerts' team now, and after being named the starting shortstop on the inaugural all-MLB squad, he's a good player to build around. Manager Alex Cora would like to see him improve his first-step quickness in the field, but otherwise there are no complaints. Arauz, a Rule 5 pick, will be given a chance to stick as his backup.
On the roster: Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts
Can we just stamp this trio with a giant TENTATIVE marker? Any or all of them could conceivably be traded over the next month, with Bradley the likeliest to go and Benintendi the safest bet to stay. What Bloom decides to do with Betts could decide the direction of the season, and there's still little indication that the Red Sox plan to move the former MVP, despite some rumors out of Los Angeles.
Once the strength of the team offensively and defensively, the outfield now looks like a group in flux, and if someone is dealt, they'll need to acquire a starting-caliber player to replace him.
Needs: Everything? Nothing? We won't know until someone is dealt, but at the very least, the Red Sox need a backup to protect Martinez's bat.
On the roster: Jonathan Arauz, Marco Hernandez (pictured), Dalbec, Plawecki
The Red Sox appear intent on leading baseball in utility infielders for the second straight year after the arrivals of Peraza and Arauz, the re-signing of Hernandez, and the continued presence of Chavis, who can play first, second, and third. They need another outfielder, and could use a left-handed bat, possibly at first base.
Needs: More pop, an outfielder, possibly a left-handed first baseman.
On the roster: Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez
Say hello to the Make or Break Bunch. The season will likely come down to the performances of Sale and Eovaldi, and if he's not traded, Price. The rotation failed the roster more than any other group in 2019, and it enters 2020 with no shortage of questions.
Is Price really healthy after shutting it down for more than three months? Will Eovaldi stay healthy? Can E-Rod duplicate his 19-win campaign? Who will take Rick Porcello's innings? Can the low-strikeout Perez thrive in today's power game?
Needs: Depth. The Red Sox will likely go the opener route at the first sign of trouble, but they need to ensure they've got better secondary options than the ones who combined to go 3-15 last season. Another season of Hector Velazquez, Brian Johnson, and Andrew Cashner won't cut it.
On the roster: Brandon Workman (pictured), Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Josh Taylor, Darwinzon Hernandez, Marcus Walden, Ryan Brasier, Josh Osich
The group we spent half of last season complaining about actually ended up being pretty good when all was said and done. Workman probably won't duplicate his 10-1, 1.88 season, but he showed an ability to close that makes acquiring a stopper a back-burner issue. Barnes, Hembree, and Walden provide some experience from the right side, while Taylor and Hernandez will look to build on out-of-nowhere rookie campaigns that made them reliable left-handed power options by August. This group could end up being filled out by any of a handful of new arms, from Osich, to fellow left-hander Yoan Aybar, to veteran righty Chris Mazza.
Needs: Minimal. More bodies, competition, and depth are always welcome, but for now the Red Sox look OK.