Sox Look Ahead
The MLB season that looked unlikely just a month ago is quickly approaching. The Red Sox seem to be slowing down their moves after signing two-time All-Star Trevor Story to a six-year $140 million deal. There are still plenty of available players that are left on the market for teams to grab before opening day is upon us, but it looks like Boston is finished.
With the bulk of the Boston roster currently intact, it's time to take a look at where players may line up when the time comes for Alex Cora to make those difficult decisions. In an interview, Cora admitted the team looks like it is almost completed, stating, "I believe (the group) is here, but maybe we can add...But I do believe we have the 28 guys here."
After signing Trevor Story, and adding some power to an offense that lost two of its power hitters from last season in Hunter Renfroe, and fan-favorite Kyle Schwarber, the infield is without a doubt Boston's biggest strength. With Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and now Story most likely playing second base, the Red Sox not only have a great defensive infield but a strong batting order top to bottom. Christian Arroyo could get some time at second, or pretty much anywhere on the field as he and Enrique "Kike" Hernández are no question the most versatile players at Boston's disposal.
First base looks like it is going to belong to Bobby Dalbec to start the year as he is the only first baseman listed on the Red Sox 40-man currently. Last season, the position was filled with all different kinds of players. Danny Santana, Kyle Schwarber, Franchy Cordero, and even Kevin Plawecki featured at first for two games in 2021. It may not even be until July or even August but there is no doubt that the current No. 1 prospect in the Red Sox farm system according to SoxProspects, Triston Casas is going to find a way up to the majors this season. Casas has the potential to be an All-Star in Boston at first base and solidify himself at a position that has not been claimed for quite some time.
Casas most recently played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .372 to go along with 11 RBIs, and 29 hits. The young 21-year-old has the stature to strike fear into the eyes of opposing pitchers. At 252 lbs, Casas is not going to be just a power hitter for the Sox, he is a complete player when he steps in the batter's box. He was invited to the Red Sox spring training as a non-roster invitee after he was named to the All-Olympic team following his performance in the Tokyo Olympics where he led the United States with three home runs en route to a silver medal. Casas is on deck, but Dalbec will lead the way on the right corner of the infield to begin the season for Boston.
In terms of the outfield for the Red Sox heading into opening day, there are regulars like Alex Verdugo, and Kike Hernández, as well as newcomer Jackie Bradley Jr, and the No. 4 player on SoxProspects, Jaren Duran. J.D Martinez may see some time in the outfield, but last season every time the slugger played the field, his offensive numbers plummeted. Even though Bradley Jr is back in Boston, look for Cora to stick with Hernández in center field. With Story now most likely at second, and Arroyo to back him up off the bench, Hernández should be a lock for the outfield for the entire season. Right field is definitely the weakest spot on the Red Sox roster, but Cora admitted that he will use Martinez in that position at Fenway Park when needed. Duran is a wild card with a lot of potential with his speed, and agility in the outfield, and on the bases.
This past week, manager Alex Cora spoke about where Story fits in when it comes to the lineup, stating, "I like a lot about the top six...Creating balance. We have the two lefties who are going to play every day (Devers and Verdugo) and then a platoon guy. Somehow, some way we’re going to spread them out and quote-on-quote protect them. I’m loving Raffy hitting second."
The hype of the Red Sox season begins with the roster almost finalized. The addition of Story will get a lot of attention for good reason, but some of the pitching acquisitions like Michael Wacha, and Rich Hill could pay off big time. Last season, the Sox were third in the MLB in batting average, and with the departure of Eduardo Rodríguez, and the long absence of Chris Sale, this team might have to rely on it. Boston will look to clean it up on the defensive end, hence the addition of Bradley Jr as it was second in the league last year in errors behind only the Miami Marlins.
With the Yankees waiting on the horizon for a battle on April 7th, the Red Sox prepare for another version of the greatest rivalry in all of team sports. For a team that was up and down when it came to depth on the mound last season, its newcomers need to step up if Boston wants to improve on last season's result. Only time will tell how far the Sox will go this season, but with this lineup, the sky is without a doubt the limit.