When the 2020 season kicks off next week, the Red Sox will have 30, rather than 25 or 26, players on their Opening Day roster and their roster will stay at 30 players for two weeks, or until August 7th.
During those first two weeks of the truncated 2020 campaign, in which the Sox are scheduled to play 12 games, the club is leaning towards carrying 15 pitchers and 15 position players, manager Ron Roenicke said when speaking to reporters via Zoom on Wednesday.
“We kind of know what we want to do. It’s not locked in on that,” Roenicke said in regards to constructing Boston’s Opening Day roster. “If we get to the last few days and we see that we think maybe we need more than 15 pitchers and we have to go to 16 pitchers, then we’ll do that. I know what I want to do, and that’s probably that 15 (pitchers) and 15 (position players).”
However, despite expressing what he would like to do, Roenicke also acknowledged that his outlook could change after the Red Sox play the Blue Jays in a pair of exhibition games at Fenway Park next Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I think when we get to these last few games, we’ll have a better idea,” the Sox skipper added. “As you know, the starting pitching has a lot to do with that, whether we’re going to go with openers, how much length we’re going to have and if we’re carrying guys who are basically three or four inning guys, which can cover your innings.”
In losing Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery, David Price in a trade with the Dodgers, and Rick Porcello to free agency, Boston’s starting pitching depth has taken a major hit since last fall. Not to mention the fact that left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who projected to be the Sox’ Opening Day starter, will likely miss the start of the season due to his testing positive for COVID-19 last week.
As things currently stand, Nathan Eovaldi will likely be Boston’s Opening Day starter, and he will presumably be followed by the likes of Martin Perez, Ryan Weber, Brian Johnson, and perhaps an opener, as Roenicke mentions above.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Red Sox seem to be close to signing free-agent right-hander Zack Godley, last with the Tigers, to a contract, so he could be an appealing rotation option as well.
In terms of position players, the Sox are pretty much set. Roenicke said as much on Wednesday when describing how well the offense has performed since Summer Camp began earlier this month.
“The offense is swinging so well that I keep asking, ‘Is it just that our offense is so good or are we not pitching as well?'” he rhetorically asked. “Maybe it’s a combination of both, but to have this many guys hot this early surprises me because I felt like we would slowly get into this and the last few games, I was hoping we’d swing well.”
As I’m typing this, the Red Sox have 50 out of a possible 60 players in their Summer Camp pool. More guys are likely to be added to said pool by the end of the week, but just for fun, here’s a little Opening Day roster projection from yours truly.
Zack Godley (FA)
Jackie Bradley Jr.
J.D. Martinez (DH)
Obviously, take this with a grain of salt, as it is just a rough prediction with exactly nine days to go until Opening Day.
Some guys you would expect to see on here, such as Rodriguez, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor, will likely miss the start of the season due to testing positive for coronavirus. In addition to that, right-hander Collin McHugh, who signed with the Sox in February, has yet to throw a live batting practice at Summer Camp.
Godley, meanwhile, might not be ready for the start of the season even if he is signed relatively soon. The 30-year-old was only released by the Tigers on Monday, so that will certainly be something to monitor if/when he signs his contract with Boston.
For the time being, Roenicke, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, and the Red Sox as a whole have a little more than a week to sort any roster-related issues out before the sprint that will be the 2020 season begins.