Predicting the Red Sox’ Opening Day Roster

One month from Wednesday, the Red Sox will open their 2020 season with the first of four against the Toronto Blue Jays north of border. As things stand right now, a solid portion of the club’s 26-man Opening Day roster is set, but with questions surrounding injuries and depth aplenty, there could still be a handful of spots up for grabs.

With that, I thought it would be a good time to take a crack at what the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster could look like this time next month. Let’s get to it, shall we?

The Starting Rotation:

Eduardo Rodriguez
Nathan Eovaldi
Martin Perez
Ryan Weber
Kyle Hart

According to interim manager Ron Roenicke, left-hander Chris Sale might need to throw two live batting practice sessions before throwing in an actual game, leaving the 30-year-old’s status for Opening Day up in the air since he wouldn’t have a ton of time to ramp up his workload.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding Sale, that leaves two spots in Boston’s rotation up for grabs. Right-hander Ryan Weber seems like a likely candidate, and I went with left-hander Kyle Hart over pitching prospect Tanner Houck for the fifth spot.

Hart, 27, was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster back in November, while Houck, who is not on the 40-man roster, could use more time to develop as a starter in Triple-A.

Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson have prior experience starting for the Red Sox, although Johnson would need to be added back to the 40-man roster after being outrighted in November.

The Bullpen:

Matt Barnes
Ryan Brasier
Brandon Workman
Darwinzon Hernandez
Josh Taylor
Heath Hembree
Marcus Walden
Austin Brice

As far as I am concerned, Barnes, Workman, Hernandez, Taylor, Hembree, and Walden are all locks to make the Opening Day roster.

Brasier struggled at times last year and has minor-league options remaining, while Brice, who was acquired from the Marlins last month, is out of options.

Outside candidates on the 40-man roster include Yoan Aybar, Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, Josh Osich, Mike Shawaryn, Jeffrey Springs, and Phillips Valdez.

The Catchers:

Christian Vazquez
Jonathan Lucroy

Although Kevin Plawecki is on a guaranteed deal for the 2020 season, it is only for $900,000, so it would not be a huge financial loss if the Sox went with Lucroy instead.

The two-time All-Star signed a minor-league deal with Boston earlier in February and has a far more impressive offensive track record than Plawecki does. He also appears to have a solid relationship with Roenicke from when the two were with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Infielders:

Mitch Moreland
Michael Chavis
Jose Peraza
Xander Bogaerts
Rafael Devers
Jonathan Arauz
Tzu-Wei Lin

Lin is out of options, and as a Rule 5 selection, Arauz would have to be offered back to the Astros if he does not stick on Boston’s 26-man roster, so I believe those two will make it, especially with the defensive versatility Lin offers.

Bogaerts has been dealing with a sore left ankle since workouts began nearly two weeks ago, but it looks like that is a non-issue as far as his status for Opening Day is concerned.

Top prospect Bobby Dalbec is not listed here, but I would personally love to see him make it if he were to get adequate playing time at the big-league level. With Devers manning third and Moreland and Chavis handling first base duties though, that does not seem likely at this point.

Also, Dustin Pedroia will begin the year on the 60-day injured list.

The Outfielders:

Andrew Benintendi
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Kevin Pillar
J.D. Martinez

With Alex Verdugo likely to start the season on the injured list due to a lower back stress fracture, Kevin Pillar is likely to slide in as an everyday outfielder, which he is more than capable of doing.

As I mentioned, Lin, and even prospect C.J. Chatham, are capable of playing a little outfield if necessary. And the Red Sox may need a temporary fourth outfielder during Verdugo’s absence if they do not want Martinez to spend too much time in the outfield.

So there you have it. 26 roster spots. 26 predictions with a whole lot of other possibilities as well. I’ll leave you with my guess for what the Opening Day starting lineup could look like:

  1. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  2. Rafael Devers, 3B
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  4. J.D. Martinez, DH
  5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  6. Christian Vazquez, C
  7. Michael Chavis, 2B
  8. Kevin Pillar, RF
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
    Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

 

Red Sox Non-Tender Marco Hernandez and Josh Osich

The Red Sox have non-tendered infielder Marco Hernandez and left-handed reliever Josh Osich, making them free agents. The club made the transactions official earlier Monday night.

For many, the move to non-tender Hernandez comes as quite the surprise, as the 27-year-old was projected to earn $700,000 in his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2020.

After making his way back from multiple shoulder surgeries in 2019, Hernandez slashed .250/.279/.338 with two home runs and 11 RBI over 61 games with Boston this past season. He also played second base and shortstop.

With Hernandez seemingly out of the picture at this point, options at second base for the Red Sox who are currently on the 40-man roster include C.J Chatham, Michael Chavis, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Dustin Pedroia.

As for Osich, the move to non-tender the 31-year-old comes just over a month after Boston claimed him off waivers from the Chicago White Sox back in late October.

Per MLB Trade Rumors, Osich was set to make $1 million in arbitration in 2020 after spending the first five years of his career between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox.

Going back to the 40-man roster, left-handed options out of the bullpen the Red Sox now have include Yoan Aybar, Kyle Hart, Darwinzon Hernandez, Bobby Poyner, and Josh Taylor.

Following Monday’s moves, the Sox’ 40-man roster now stands at 34 players.

Red Sox Outright Gorkys Hernandez and Josh Smith to Triple-A Pawtucket

Although no official announcement has been made to this point, the Red Sox outrighted both right-hander Josh Smith and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez from their 40-man roster to Triple-A Pawtucket, per the club’s transaction log.

Based on what I just read on Baseball Reference regarding outright waivers, I would assume that both Hernandez and Smith were placed on waivers on Wednesday and then went 48 hours without being claimed, as the above tweet from MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo mentions.

Hernandez, 32, inked a minor-league deal with Boston last December and slashed .143/.218/.245 with zero home runs and two RBI in 20 games and 57 plate appearances with the big league club after being part of the first round of September call-ups.

Smith, meanwhile, posted an ERA of 5.81 and batting average against of .281 over 18 appearances (two starts) and 31 innings pitched spanning six different stints with Boston. The 32-year-old joined the club as a minor-league free agent back in May of 2018.

As the Red Sox continue to make room on their 40-man roster, it seems to becoming more and more likely that a handful of key prospects will be added to the 40-man by November 20th in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in December.

 

Red Sox Activate David Price from Paternity Leave List, Recall Ryan Weber from Triple-A Pawtucket in Slew of Roster Moves

Before taking on the New York Yankees in the finale of a four-game weekend series on Sunday night, the Red Sox announced that left-hander David Price was activated from the paternity leave list and right-hander Ryan Weber was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

In a trio of corresponding moves, right-handers Colten Brewer and Josh Smith, as well as utility infielder Marco Hernandez, were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. The club announced the transactions earlier Sunday.

Price and his wife, Tiffany, welcomed their second child together on Thursday, one day before the 33-year-old hurler was placed on paternity leave.

Now, Price is back on the active roster and will go up against Yankees southpaw J.A. Happ, who was also activated off paternity leave on Sunday.

In addition to Price re-joining the big league club, right-hander Ryan Weber was recalled from the PawSox two weeks after being optioned there for the second time this season.

Through eight appearances (three starts) with Boston this year, the 28-year-old owns an ERA of 5.25 and batting average against of .297 over 24 total innings pitched.

Right-handers Colten Brewer and Josh Smith were both sent down to Pawtucket one day after both were used a total of three times during Saturday’s doubleheader. Smith’s role will essentially be taken over by Weber, as the Sox may need to eat some innings tonight given how much their bullpen has already been used this weekend.

Finally, Marco Hernandez, the player who was added to the 25-man roster once Price went on paternity leave on Friday, was optioned to Triple-A.

In his second, albeit, brief stint with Boston, Hernandez went 1-for-4 with one run scored, one double, and one walk during Saturday’s doubleheader.

On the 2019 campaign as a whole, Hernandez is slashing .333/.362/.500 with two homers and seven RBI over 29 games played.

With these moves, as well as left-hander Brian Johnson being added to the active roster after serving as Boston’s 26th man on Saturday, the Red Sox’ roster now stands at 25.

First pitch against the Yankees Sunday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN.

#RedSox Activate Steve Pearce from Injured List, Option Sam Travis to Triple-A Pawtucket

After starting his first full season with the Red Sox on the 10-Day injured list, Steve Pearce is back, as the club activated him from the IL prior to Thursday’s game against the Oakland Athletics.

As the above tweet reads, to make room on Boston’s 25-man roster, first baseman Sam Travis was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket Wednesday night.

Pearce, 35, strained his left calf while running out a ground ball in the first inning of a Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 17th.

He was removed from that game seemingly as a precaution, but did not appear in any other big league games for the remainder of the spring.

Now, after getting some work in at the minor-league level down in Fort Myers, the South Carolina native appears ready to make his 2019 debut. He re-joined the club in Oakland Wednesday.

Given his .304/.400/.559 slash line to go along with five home runs and 20 RBI in 120 plate appearances against left-handers last season, it would not be surprising to see Pearce in the three-hole against southpaw Brett Anderson and the Athletics Thursday afternoon.

In Pearce’s place, Sam Travis went 2/7 with two singles in two games played while making Boston’s Opening Day roster for the first time in his career.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on NESN.

Sandy Leon Clears Waivers, Could Accept Minor League Assignment to Remain with #RedSox

After being placed on waivers by the Red Sox on Sunday, catcher Sandy Leon could remain with the organization following a 48-hour period in which he went unclaimed by other clubs.

Officially clearing waivers on Tuesday, Leon was then outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, meaning he is no longer on Boston’s 40-man roster.

The 30-year-old backstop now has an additional 48 hours to accept or reject that assignment to the PawSox.

If he chooses to reject it and thus becomes a free agent, then he will also be losing out on his $2.475 million salary for 2019, so as WEEI’s Evan Drellich notes, “it’s quite possible he remains in the Red Sox organization.”

On the other hands, if Leon accepts the assignment, then his 2019 salary will count towards Boston’s luxury tax.

As of this moment, the Red Sox currently have 37 players on their 40-man roster, so I’m assuming they have to add three more before Thursday.

#RedSox Reportedly Place Sandy Leon on Waivers

According to WEEI’s Evan Drellich, the Red Sox have reportedly placed catcher Sandy Leon on waivers.

This news comes as not too big of a surprise, given the fact that Boston was looking to trade or move on from one of Leon, Christian Vazquez, or Blake Swihart since the beginning of the offseason due to them not wanting to carry three catchers on their Opening Day roster this year.

Leon, 30, was initially acquired from the Washington Nationals prior to the start of the 2015 of season in exchange for cash considerations.

In his four years with the Red Sox, the Venezuela native slashed .229/.289/.347 with 19 home runs and 99 RBI over 293 games and exactly 1000 plate appearances.

More recently, he went 7/30 with one home run and five RBI over 37 plate appearances this spring.

A well-respected member of the club and more specifically the pitching staff, Leon’s presence will surely be missed in the Boston clubhouse.

“No disrespect to any other catcher I’ve thrown to, but he’s the best catcher I’ve ever thrown to,” said Rick Porcello after a start in which he allowed one run over seven innings against the Philadelphia Phillies back in August.

“His game-calling, he’s prepared for every start, for every pitcher, starting or bullpen,” Porcello quipped. “He’s kind of the heartbeat of our pitching staff. We rely on him a lot. He’s always on point, he always knows what pitches to throw. Gives guys different looks. He’s as good as it gets as a game-caller and a catcher.”

Regardless of how the players felt, the higher-ups clearly valued Swihart and Vazquez over Leon. That much is evident by the rumors that Boston was shopping the ex-National in trade talks as recently as last week.

Set to earn $2.48 million in 2019, Leon will remain on waivers for the next 48 hours, where he will either be claimed or cleared and then have the choice to remain with the Red Sox organization at Triple-A Pawtucket or become a free agent.

On another note, Drellich also reports that the Red Sox have informed Swihart that he has indeed made the team.