Baseball is back.
And it’s probably going to look a little weird. But that’s OK, because, despite all the very public animosity between the league and players union, a resolution (of sorts) has been reached, and there will, in fact, be a 2020 Major League Baseball season.
It appears teams will begin with a 30-man Opening Day roster that eventually will get knocked down to 26. But at least to begin the season, teams will have a much bigger roster to work with than usual.
So, who will make the cut from the Red Sox? Let’s refresh our memories as to who’s available, and maybe we’ll even toss in a way-too-early (even though it’s June 24) Opening Day roster projection in at the end.
Locks: Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Ryan Weber, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Marcus Walden, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree
Most of these are no-brainers. Rodriguez will be the ace since Chris Sale is shut down for the season, making Eovaldi the de facto second starter. Martin Perez was brought in to be an end of the rotation guy, but he’ll instead be No. 3. The organization seems to love Weber, so he’ll get a shot as a starter/swing guy.
There also are few questions with regards to the core of the bullpen. Workman is the closer, while Barnes and Hernandez figure to be high-leverage options as well. Taylor, Walden, Brasier and Hembree all should be more situational guys, but they have the stuff to be late-inning arms and could see work as such.
Near-locks: Collin McHugh, Brian Johnson, Austin Brice
McHugh is working his way back from a flexor strain, so his availability is unclear. If he’s around, he could be a swing guy like Weber, as could Johnson, who looked good in camp after getting moved off the 40-man roster during the offseason.
Brice also was still on the active roster when things halted, so it seems like a spot on the 30-man will be his to lose.
On the bubble — Jeffrey Springs, Josh Osich, Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, Colten Brewer, Mike Shawaryn
Pretty much all of these guys constitute AAAA players, so it’s basically a matter of what the team values most in filling out the pitching staff. Either way, expect a few of these guys to end up rounding out the bullpen. Our best guess is they’ll bring up Hall if they just carry 15 pitchers, but also Brewer if they go with 16.
Locks — Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, Mitch Moreland, Michael Chavis, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Kevin Pillar, Jose Peraza
No surprises here, although the health of Verdugo obviously will have an impact on which bubble guys are in or out. However, back in May Verdugo indicated he believed he would be ready to go once the season began, so it’s probably safe to assume he’ll be the Opening Day right fielder.
On the bubble — Jonathan Arauz, Tzu-Wei Lin, Bobby Dalbec, Jonathan Lucroy
Arauz is the big question here since he was a Rule 5 draft pick, meaning the Red Sox have to keep him on the active roster all season or else they have to offer him back to the Houston Astros. He showed some positives in spring training, but it’s clear he’s not necessarily a full-time Major League player at this point.
With Brock Holt gone, Lin deserves a shot to be the Red Sox’s full-time super-utility player. He was playing well in the spring before sustaining a hamstring injury on March 3, but one has to think he’ll be good to go by July. If that’s the case, he deserves a spot on the roster.
Dalbec also showed promise, and he all but certainly will make his big league debut in 2020. However, he probably won’t make the Opening Day roster.
Lucroy was given a chance by the Red Sox as a non-roster spring training invite, and he performed well. There was an off chance he’d beat out Plawecki for the Red Sox’s backup job, so expect that position battle to continue this July. Still though, it’s probably Plawecki’s job to lose, especially since Lucroy would have to be added to the 40-man roster if he made the cut.
If the Red Sox elect to carry 15 pitchers though, that might open the door for Lucroy to make the roster. It might not be the worst idea to carry three catchers, and in a dire situation all three are capable of also playing first base.
So, with all this in mind, here’s our initial Opening Day roster projection.
Starting Pitchers (3)
Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez
Swing guys (3)
Ryan Weber, Brian Johnson, Collin McHugh
Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Marcus Walden, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Austin Brice, Matt Hall
Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, Jonathan Lucroy
Mitch Moreland, Michael Chavis, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Jose Peraza
Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Alex Verdugo, Kevin Pillar
Designated Hitter (1)
Utility Players (2)
Tzu-Wei Lin, Jonathan Arauz
Opening Day is scheduled to be either July 23 or 24, so we are just about a month away from things getting going.