Red Sox 2016 Roster Projection: Club Looks Solid After Winter Meetings

The Boston Red Sox’s 2016 roster isn’t etched in stone. But the squad stenciled in sure looks good.

Dave Dombrowski quickly and aggressively added necessary pieces this offseason, leaving the Red Sox without any major holes coming out of last week’s Major League Baseball winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. All that’s left might be some fine-tuning before Opening Day.

The Red Sox have added an ace (David Price), an All-Star closer (Craig Kimbrel), a nice fourth outfielder (Chris Young) and a solid bullpen arm (Carson Smith) since wrapping up their disappointing 2015 campaign. Better days seem to be on the horizon for a team that has finished in last place in the American League East three of the last four years (with a World Series sprinkled in, of course).

Let’s try to project the Red Sox’s 2016 roster on the heels of Dombrowski’s maneuvering leading up to and at the winter meetings. Spring training is just two months away, after all.

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

— Ramirez has been the subject of trade speculation, but the Red Sox are adamant he’ll be their starting first baseman in 2016, for better or worse. Trading Ramirez also is difficult because of the $66 million he’s owed over the next three seasons after a disappointing 2015.

For what it’s worth, keeping Ramirez makes more sense now given David Ortiz’s impending retirement, as the three-time All-Star could assume Big Papi’s DH role as soon as 2017.

— Sandoval is another player often tossed around in Internet trade chatter, though there seems to be even less substance to that speculation than the Ramirez rumors. The third baseman’s track record suggests a bounce-back 2016 isn’t out of the question.

— It sounds like the Red Sox are willing to begin the season with a starting outfield comprised of Betts, Castillo and Bradley. Castillo and Bradley are relatively unknown quantities, which increases the importance of Young’s two-year deal with Boston, but the upside is obvious. The Red Sox could have a very athletic outfield that’s capable of impacting the game both offensively and defensively.

The only real question is whether Betts will shift over to right field with Bradley playing center. Betts made significant strides in center field last season, but it typically makes sense to have the strongest defender — Bradley in this case — in center. We’ll see.

Bench
Ryan Hanigan, C
Brock Holt, IF/OF
Travis Shaw, 1B/3B
Chris Young, OF

— Young technically is Boston’s fourth outfielder, but he should see a decent chunk of playing time, particularly against left-handers. His playing time could increase even more if Bradley and/or Castillo struggle or if outfield injuries crop up.

— Shaw played well enough down the stretch last season to earn a roster spot. He’ll be a nice left-handed-swinging complement to Ramirez at first base, and his ability to move across the diamond and spell Sandoval at third base only enhances his value.

— Christian Vazquez is another catcher worth monitoring, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for Opening Day after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. His uncertainty leaves Swihart and Hanigan as the likely catching tandem at the big league level to start the season.

Rotation
David Price, LHP
Clay Buchholz, RHP
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
Rick Porcello, RHP
Joe Kelly, RHP

— Dombrowski said he doesn’t envision trading from the Red Sox’s major league rotation or bullpen after dealing Wade Miley to the Seattle Mariners in the deal for Smith. So unless an opportunity too good to pass up comes along, it’s likely the above quintet will comprise the starting five.

— Henry Owens and Roenis Elias could make a bid to bump Kelly from the rotation in spring training. Brian Johnson is on the radar, too. But right now, Kelly holds the keys.

Bullpen
Closer: Craig Kimbrel, RHP
Koji Uehara, RHP
Junichi Tazawa, RHP
Carson Smith, RHP
Robbie Ross Jr., LHP
Tommy Layne, LHP
Steven Wright, RHP

— Wright is out of options, so they’ll need to carve out a spot to keep him in the organization. That’s not a bad thing, as he’ll supply the bullpen with a contrasting style and the ability to pitch long relief. The knuckleballer is too valuable not to retain.

— Matt Barnes and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Pat Light will compete for jobs in spring training. Both are hard throwers with swing-and-miss potential. They’ll come in to play at some point in 2016.

Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@TSN_Sports

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