Projecting the Red Sox 2020 Opening Day Roster

It’s July 1st, a time when we would usually be in the middle of the baseball season, but as we all know 2020 has been different. Today marks the start of “spring training” part 2, and each team will have 60 guys at their facilities working out, fighting for a job on the Opening Day 30 man roster. With that being said I wanted to take a look at who Red Sox fans could expect to see on the team once the season opens up. This is only a projection, and is not the final roster, but I would expect at least 27-28 of these guys, if not more, to be of the 30 on the Opening Day team.

Starting Pitchers (5) Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martín Perez, Ryan Weber, Collin McHugh 

Starting pitching is definitely going to be the biggest hole for the team this year, but we have a pretty good idea what the rotation is going to look like once we hit Opening Day. The team will be without their ace, Chris Sale this year after he underwent Tommy John surgery in late March to fix the problems he’s been having with his elbow over the past few years. With that being said the team still has a solid top option in Eduardo Rodriguez, who will be looking to build off a great 2019 season, a year in which he finished 6th in the Cy Young voting. Eovaldi is a good #2 option if he can stay healthy, but the 3-5 spots in the rotation are very shaky. I believe that McHugh could really flourish in Boston, but Perez and Weber are very interesting options who will need to prove themselves in this shortened season. The team has very few alternatives to replace a starter if one of the guys were to go down with an injury, so if that happens the Red Sox may look to the free agent market for a cheap veteran pitcher. 

(Picture Credit: The Boston Globe)

Relief Pitchers (11) Heath Hembree, Josh Osich, Chris Mazza, Marcus Walden, Josh Taylor, Colten Brewer, Austin Brice, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brazier, Darwinzon Hernandez, Brandon Workman

The bullpen is certainly going to be full during the beginning of the season and there will be some interesting options for the team to use on a nightly basis. Barnes, Hernandez, and Workman will be the lockdown backend pieces who the team will rely on most. Beyond them the team has a wide variety of middle inning guys who will each be looking to prove their worth to stay on the team once the roster is cut down to 26. Hembree, Walden, and Taylor are the main names that come to mind when I think of the 5th-7th inning, and they’ll all be looking to build off of strong 2019 seasons. The other pitchers such as Brasier, Brice, Brewer, Osich, and Mazza, will be the “other pieces” in the bullpen who will probably see fewer innings then the rest, and will usually enter the game in mop up roles. I think this bullpen gets overlooked a lot and I think they’ll be much stronger than the starters this season. There will be plenty of competition in this department of the team, so it will definitely be fun to watch. 

(Picture Credit: The Boston Globe) 

Catchers (2) Christian Vázquez, Kevin Plawecki 

The catching situation is just about confirmed for the Red Sox this year. Christian Vázquez will remain as the team's starting catcher, a position that he’s now held for three straight seasons. Plawecki will be the backup to Vazquez after he was signed by the team in the offseason. Plawecki is a career backup catcher for the Mets and Indians, so he’s very familiar with the role that he will assume with the Red Sox. 

(Picture Credit: CBS Boston)

Infielders (7) Mitch Moreland, Michael Chavis, Jose Peraza, Jonathan Arauz, Tzu-Wei Lin, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers

The starting lineup for the infield is locked down, with Devers, Bogaerts, Chavis, and Moreland locking down the diamond from 3rd to 1st base. The team will have a great 5th option/utility man in Jose Peraza to sub in when a player needs a day off, as he can play any position in the infield besides 1st base. I would expect Arauz and Lin to make the opening day roster, but I don’t think they’ll get much playing time and could be two of the first guys cut when the roster needs to get trimmed. The infield is solid, but I think we know what to expect and which players will be carrying the majority of the load at each position.  

(Picture Credit: NBC Sports)

Outfielders (5) Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Kevin Pillar 

The outfield is going to look different without Mookie Betts this year, there’s no question about it, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still some great talents in the Red Sox outfield. Benintendi, Bradley Jr., and Verdugo will man the grass from left to right on a daily basis, and J.D. Martinez will be the team's everyday DH, and will rarely see the defensive side of the ball. One of the reasons for this is that the Red Sox 4th outfielder, Kevin Pillar is one of the best defensive outfielders in the entire league. Pillar, who is the only right handed bat in this outfield besides Martinez, will be rotating into the lineup whenever the Red Sox face a left handed pitcher, or one of the other guys needs a day off. Verdugo, will obviously face a lot of pressure after he was the key piece acquired in the Mookie Betts trade, but I would still expect him to have a great season in Boston. It’s going to be a crucial year for all of these guys for many reasons, as it will be the last year on a few of their contracts and the others will be looking to bounce back after a poor 2019 season. This is still one of the best outfields in the majors, even without Betts, and I would expect solid years from many of these guys, especially under the circumstances. 

(Picture Credit: The Athletic)

Projected Cuts When The Roster Is Trimmed to 26 (Chris Mazza, Austin Brice, Josh Osich, Tzu-Wei Lin)

I also wanted to include my predictions for the cuts the team will make when the team roster is trimmed down to 26 after the first month. It’s nearly impossible to perfectly predict who would be cut right now because a lot of it will be based on how each player is performing and who’s injured. However, I am almost certain that the team will be cutting 3 pitchers and 1 batter at this time, so that gives you a little better idea of who will be removed from the roster. I picked Mazza, Brice, and Osich to get the axe from the bullpen because I think they’re the 3 shakiest and least proven options in the pitching rotation. I’m sure there will be injuries but I would expect Mazza to be the first to go, followed by Brice, and then Osich. All the other pitchers in the Red Sox bullpen had solid 2019 seasons, so I think the team will rely on those guys much more then the three that I named. 

The batter is a little harder to predict because I’m not even positive that Lin will make the Opening Day roster. If Lin isn’t on the roster then I would look at a guy like Johnathan Arauz to be next in line for the cut. Arauz was selected in the Rule 5 draft from the Houston Astros this offseason, and by rule will have to remain on the Red Sox 25 man roster for the entire season. The Red Sox do have the option to cut him if he’s underperforming, but he would have to be offered back to the Astros for no cost, before he could be removed from the roster. Arauz would need to be majorly underperforming for this to happen, but it’s not out of the picture. For that reason my pick here is Tzu-Wei Lin.

- Andrew Gardner, UNH '23 

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