Red Sox set roster for ALDS vs. Rays: J.D. Martinez active; Matt Barnes, Jarren Duran among those left off

The Red Sox have released their roster for their matchup against the Rays in the American League Division Series, which kicks off at Tropicana Field later Thursday night.

After being left off the Sox’ Wild Card game roster earlier this week on account of a left ankle sprain, J.D. Martinez is back in the fold and will be active for this upcoming series, though it remains to be seen if he will be able to start in Game 1.

Martinez had to be held out of action in Tuesday’s win over the Yankees after tripping over the second-base bag while jogging out to right field in Sunday’s contest against the Nationals at Nationals Park.

The 34-year-old slugger twisted his left ankle as a result and was left with an injury that Red Sox manager Alex Cora had previously described as “very serious” due to the level of swelling.

Joining Martinez on Boston’s ALDS roster after being left off for the Wild Card Game are left-handers Chris Sale and Martin Perez and utility man Danny Santana. Sale is expected to start Game 2 of this series on Friday.

In order to accommodate the additions of these four, the Sox removed the likes of catcher Connor Wong, infielder Jonathan Arauz, and outfielder Jarren Duran after including the young trio in their Wild Card Game roster for depth purposes.

Matt Barnes, who was active but did not pitch in Tuesday’s victory over New York, was also removed, making him one of the more notable omissions from Boston’s ALDS roster.

On top of that, Hirokazu Sawamura and Darwinzon Hernandez were also left off the team’s roster after neither reliever was active for Tuesday’s Wild Card Game at Fenway Park.

With this series of transactions, the Red Sox will be rolling with 13 pitchers and 13 position players against the Rays after going with 12 pitchers and 14 position players against the Yankees.

As previously mentioned, Barnes being left off is notable, though it does not come as much of a surprise given how things have gone for him lately. The 31-year-old right-hander began the 2021 season by locking down the closer’s role out of the Boston bullpen.

Through the end of July, Barnes had posted a 2.30 ERA and 2.15 FIP while converting 23 of a possible 27 save opportunities in the process of being named to his first All-Star team. He also signed a two-year, $18.75 million contract extension on July 11, but has not been the same since the calendar flipped to August.

From the start of August through the end of the season, Barnes struggled to the tune of a 9.26 ERA and 7.11 FIP over 17 appearances (11 2/3 innings pitched) while also testing positive for COVID-19 and missing a significant amount of time as a result.

Without Barnes on the ALDS roster, the Sox added Sale — who was not available to pitch on Tuesday after starting on Sunday — and Perez, who becomes the extra pitcher after being inactive for the Wild Card Game.

While Barnes is undoubtedly the most notable player left off Boston’s roster for their best-of-five series against Tampa Bay, Santana is the most surprising addition.

Despite having not played in a big-league game since September 10, Santana was activated off the COVID-19 related injured list and added to the club’s ALDS squad.

In order to make room for Santana on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox outrighted infielders Jose Iglesias and Yairo Munoz to Triple-A Worcester.

By outrighting Iglesias, who was not eligible for the postseason since he signed after Sept. 1, the Sox were able to create space for the switch-hitting Santana, who is capable of providing the club with defensive versatility and speed off the bench.

Full Red Sox ALDS Roster:

Pitchers (13): Ryan Brasier, Austin Davis, Nathan Eovaldi, Tanner Houck, Adam Ottavino, Martín Pérez, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Richards, Hansel Robles, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Josh Taylor, Garrett Whitlock

Catchers (2): Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez

Infielders (5): Christian Arroyo, Xander Bogaerts, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Travis Shaw

Outfielders (4): J.D. Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, Kyle Schwarber, Alex Verdugo

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Predicting the #RedSox’ 25-Man ALDS Roster.

The Red Sox are headed to the postseason for the third consecutive year following one of, if not the best regular season in franchise history. As the top seed in the American League, they’ll take on the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees in a five-game series that starts this upcoming Friday.

With that in mind, I thought I would go ahead and try my luck at predicting how Alex Cora will construct his 25-man roster for the ALDS. Here’s what I came up with.

Pitchers:

*LHP Chris Sale
*LHP David Price
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
*RHP Nathan Eovaldi
*RHP Rick Porcello
RHP Steven Wright
RHP Matt Barnes
RHP Ryan Brasier
RHP Brandon Workman
LHP Bobby Poyner
RHP Craig Kimbrel

Some pretty obvious choices here. Sale, Price, Porcello, and Eovaldi will most likely be the starters depending on how long the series goes, and guys like Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright provide a different look out of the bullpen.

In terms of whose on the bubble, you could make the case that both Bobby Poyner and Brandon Workman are interchangeable with other relievers left off, such as Brian Johnson, who started Friday night’s game against the Yankees, or even Joe Kelly.

Personally, I believe Rodriguez would be the go-to option for a longer role out of the ‘pen if multiple innings are needed, while Poyner would be more of a situational pitcher to come in and get a specific hitter out.

Catchers:

C Sandy Leon
C Christian Vazquez
C Blake Swihart

Yes, the Red Sox probably will be one of the only teams in this postseason field to carry three catchers on their roster, but it is necessary.

For starters, Sandy Leon has the trust of the pitching staff, while Christian Vazquez excels in throwing out runners on the base paths.

Blake Swihart on the other hand, I would expect him to mostly be utilized as a pinch runner off the bench.

Infielders:

1B Steve Pearce
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Ian Kinsler
2B Brock Holt
3B Eduardo Nunez
3B Rafael Devers
SS Xander Bogaerts

A few weeks ago, it seemed as though Eduardo Nunez had seemingly taken over at third base, which left Rafael Devers without a real role. But, with Nunez going down for a few days with hamstring tightness, Devers has emerged with solid play both at the plate and the hot corner lately, as he is slashing .300/.378/.650 with four homers and 10 RBI over his last 10 games.

As for what’s happening on the right side of the infield, Ian Kinsler, with the elite defense he provides, should be handling the majority of duties at second base, while Brock Holt, who owns a 1.621 OPS as a pinch hitter this season, should be one of the first bats off the bench in a close game.

And at first base, it’s pretty simple. Mitch Moreland will get the majority of at bats against right-handed pitchers, while Steve Pearce will be facing lefties.

Outfielders:

OF Mookie Betts
OF Andrew Benintendi
OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
OF/DH JD Martinez

Not much to say here. Benintendi in left, Bradley Jr. in center, Mookie Betts in right, and JD Martinez DH’ing.

If I were to guess, I would say the game one lineup against New York or Oakland will look something like this.

  1. Betts, RF
  2. Benintendi, LF
  3. Martinez, DH
  4. Bogaerts, SS
  5. Devers, 3B
  6. Pearce, 1B
  7. Kinsler, 2B
  8. Leon, C
  9. Bradley Jr., CF

So, there you have it. We’ll have to wait and see how accurate this really is when Alex Cora makes the roster official in a few days.