Before the Red Sox hired manager John Farrell, the team's shortstop situation was already an uncertainty.
Mike Aviles, Jose Iglesias and possibly Pedro Ciriaco were considered the candidates for the Opening Day gig. But as soon as the Red Sox traded Aviles to the Blue Jays as compensation for Farrell, the scenario changed.
Do the Red Sox go with Ciriaco or Iglesias or do they fill the void outside the organization?
Let's start with Iglesias. Before his September call-up with the Red Sox , the 22-year-old showed strides at the plate in 88 Triple-A games, hitting .266 with one home run and 23 RBIs. But he took a beating when it came to adjusting to major league pitching. Iglesias hit a paltry .118/.200/.191 in 77 plate appearances last season, including a home run and two RBIs.
His offense is a liability, especially in the American League, which favors offense. Iglesias' future, however, hinges on whether the Red Sox think his defensive ability outweighs his offensive shortcomings.
In his short time on the major league roster, Iglesias managed to save seven defensive runs. That's why Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington sees value in keeping Iglesias around.
"We believe Jose is ready to be a major league shortstop, but we're not ready to commit to that," Cherington said. "We'll look for ways to improve the team, and shortstop could be one of those areas. We'll see what opportunities exist."
Another in-house solution could be Ciriaco, who says he's more comfortable at shortstop than any other position. When Will Middlebrooks went down with a wrist injury, Ciriaco capitalized on the chance to prove he was capable of playing every day by helping out at third base.
Through 76 games, Ciriaco hit .293 with two home runs and 19 RBIs. He also ignited the Red Sox with his base-running, racking up 16 stolen bases to finish second on team behind Dustin Pedroia.
Although Iglesias has the nod defensively over his counterpart, Ciriaco is still an above-average fielder. The Red Sox could take advantage of the 27-year-old's skill set as a starting infielder or as a utilityman.
There's also the chance that the Red Sox could find their starting shortstop elsewhere — an alternative Cherington is certainly open to.
"We'll have our eyes open," Cherington said. "If there's ways we can strengthen that position and build depth at that position, it's something we'll look at."
One area the Red Sox could explore is Texas' roster. Since the Rangers have a top prospect in Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings, two-time All-Star Elvis Andrus could be expendable.