The Boston Red Sox manager — whoever it may be — has their work cut out for them when it comes to penciling in an Opening Day lineup.
The Red Sox on Tuesday night reportedly agreed to a three-team trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins that will send outfielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price to LA. Now, in addition to a currently vacant manager’s office at Fenway Park, the Red Sox have to find a way to replace two of their best players on the 25-man roster.
Here’s a quick roster projection following the reported trade:
Tuesday night’s reported blockbuster does nothing to affect the infield situation. The looming issue there, of course, is the future of Dustin Pedroia, but the Red Sox already were planning on life without the injured second baseman. For now, Peraza — signed in December — gets the nod at second base. He could be a sneaky valuable piece in 2020, as his positional versatility and durability should give him plenty of chances to get in the lineup. Arauz also makes the cut for now. Since he was scooped up in the Rule 5 draft from Houston, we have to believe he’ll get every chance to make the team despite having never played above the Double-A level. It’s worth noting Lin is out of options.
Again, nothing changes here. If anything, Vazquez’s intangible value increases without Betts or Price in the mix. After the best season of his career, he’ll be looked on to assume a greater leadership role along with players like Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. Spring training is big for Plawecki, who has been lauded for his communication skills and handling of a pitching staff.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Verdugo, 23, has a bright future and was a slightly above-average player in his 106 games with the Dodgers last season. There undoubtedly will be unfair expectations placed upon him, and it goes without saying hew can’t replace Betts. No one can. You have to wonder whether there’s a move to be made somewhere to bring in some outfield depth. The only other outfielder on the 40-man roster is Marcus Wilson, who has just 74 games of experience beyond Single-A ball.
DESIGNATED HITTER (1)
Still really good. Not much else to say.
STARTING PITCHERS (4)
The Red Sox officially have starting pitching questions, which isn’t really news. On paper, Boston would have had a strong rotation with Price in the fold and assuming health for everyone, but Price has injury issues while Sale and Eovaldi combined for just 37 starts in 2019. Take Price — despite all his question marks — out of the equation, and there are obvious issues, the biggest right now being they only have four starters. Newly acquired Brusdar Graterol has some serious stuff and lives up near 100 mph, but the Twins had their doubts about his ability to start, which is saying something given Minnesota’s own starting pitching issues a year ago. Regardless, it seems highly unlikely the 21-year-old with 9 2/3 innings of big league experience would break camp in the rotation. If they want to make him a starter, he should probably start the season in the minors. There’s still a chance the Red Sox take a chance on a free agent like Collin McHugh on a short-term deal, but given Chaim Bloom’s past with Tampa Bay and the Red Sox’s surplus of relievers, using an “opener” feels very much on the table.
Darwinzon Hernandez (LHP)
Josh Taylor (LHP)
The bullpen seems fairly set, in large part because minor league options — or lack thereof — kind of force some decisions, at least to start the year. There might be some who’d like to see Hernandez get a shot in the starting rotation, but general manager Brian O’Halloran told NESN’s Tom Caron at Winter Weekend the Red Sox currently view the left-hander as a reliever. That obviously could change, but Hernandez just hasn’t shown the ability to throw enough strikes to be a starter. Brice, whom Boston acquired from Miami in January, is among the relievers without options, so he’ll get a chance to make the team. It’s a big spring training for Brewer, who had his issues in 2019 and could be in a roster battle with the likes of Chris Mazza, Mike Shawaryn, Ryan Weber, Jeffrey Springs and Josh Osich in March.