With change comes opportunity.
The Red Sox’s clubhouse dynamic could shift in 2020 with Mookie Betts, David Price, Rick Porcello, Brock Holt and manager Alex Cora among those leaving Boston, for one reason or another. The departures open the door for returning veterans — Xander Bogaerts, Chris Sale, Jackie Bradley Jr., etc. — to assume greater leadership responsibilities, but don’t be surprised if the Red Sox’s newcomers play a significant role in shaping the team’s chemistry moving forward.
“Every team is so different,” Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke told reporters Tuesday in Fort Myers, Fla. “Sometimes you don’t have many (vocal leaders). Sometimes you have four or five guys who are vocal, stir it up and are funny. From year to year, you never know quite where it’s going to be unless you have the same characters back year to year.”
Leadership obviously takes on many forms. While some players are more demonstrative, opting to boost morale and build camaraderie with a certain outspokenness, others are less vocal, choosing instead to lead by example.
The perfect clubhouse — if such exists — probably includes some combination of both. And Roenicke sounds optimistic about what Boston’s recent acquisitions could provide off the field, perhaps ultimately enhancing the club’s performance between the lines.
Take outfielder Alex Verdugo, for instance.
“Verdugo has tremendous energy and you’re going to see it right off,” Roenicke said. “That’s just who he is. He gets excited, he shows it. That’s part of the reason I really look forward to him getting out there. I think the fans are going to really like him right away.”
Verdugo, the centerpiece of last week’s trade that sent Betts and Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers, might not have the most pull in Boston’s clubhouse right away. He’s just 23 years old with 158 games of major league experience. One needs to crawl before he can walk, walk before he can run. But he’s undoubtedly making an impression early in Red Sox camp.
Same goes for fellow outfielder Kevin Pillar, a 31-year-old veteran who spent six-plus seasons in the American League East as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays before being traded to the San Francisco Giants last April. Pillar signed a one-year contract with Boston last week.
“I think Pillar, because of who he is and the personality he has and the experience he has, I see him being a big part of that,” Roenicke said Tuesday in evaluating how the Red Sox will fill their vocal leadership void in 2020.
In other words, some of the faces are different, which will lead to inevitable change in how the Red Sox conduct business this season and beyond. But that just means there’s an opportunity for other players — new and old — to leave their fingerprints on the next chapter in franchise history.