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2016 MLB roster outlook: Boston Red Sox

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2016 MLB roster outlook: Boston Red Sox

2015 record: 78-84, 3rd place in AL East

Manager: John Farrell, 4th season

Estimated 2016 payroll: $198 million

Key additions: SP David Price, CL Craig Kimbrel, OF Chris Young

Key losses: SP Wade Miley, 1B Mike Napoli, RP Alexi Ogando

Projected lineup

RF Mookie Betts
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Xander Bogaerts
DH David Ortiz
1B Hanley Ramirez
3B Pablo Sandoval
LF Rusney Castillo
C Blake Swihart
CF Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Projected rotation
LHP David Price
RHP Clay Bucholz
RHP Rick Porcello
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
RHP Joe Kelly

Top relievers
CL Craig Kimbrel
RHP Koji Uehara
RHP Carson Smith

Biggest questions entering 2016
1. Can they pitch? The Red Sox made a serious effort this offseason to improve their pitching staff, which was one of the worst in baseball last year. They ranked 25th in team ERA (4.31) and 24th in rotation ERA (4.39). In comes David Price, who was signed to a record free agent deal, and Craig Kimbrel, who was acquired in a trade with the Padres. They added two of the best pitchers in baseball: arguably the best closer and one of the best starting pitchers in the game. They will surely help, but there remain several questions, mainly with their rotation depth.

2. Will Rick Porcello rebound from 2015? Speaking of pitching, one guy who could change Boston's entire dynamic is Rick Porcello. Porcello is due to make $20.1 million next season and is due $80.5 million total over the next four years. Last season Porcello was nowhere near worth that money with a 4.92 ERA through 28 starts (9-15). That looks a lot worse compared to his 2014 campaign when he went 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA. If he can pitch like he did in 2014, the Red Sox will have a much better outlook at the top of their rotation.

3. Can Pablo Sandoval bounce back? The Red Sox had little trouble scoring in 2015 - they were 4th in baseball in runs - but their lineup could be even better if Sandoval can start living up to his contract. Signed as a free agent last winter, Sandoval hit just .245 with 10 homers and career-low .658 OPS last season. If he can get back up to his career averages and hit above .275 with an OPS north of .750, the Red Sox' lineup could be scary.

[Roster info via RosterResource.com]

[RELATED: Top D.C. sports moments worse than #SnowTraffic]

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.