Eight questions the Red Sox still need to answer with spring training right around the corner – The Athletic

The Red Sox play their first big league spring training game on Saturday, February 25. That’s only four weeks away. The equipment truck leaves for Fort Myers from Fenway Park at the end of next week, and workouts start at JetBlue Park in two and a half weeks.In the past three months, the Red Sox have undergone a ton of roster turnover. Much of it has been predictable. Some of it has been shockin…….


The Purple Sox play their first huge league spring teaching recreation on Saturday, February 25. That’s solely 4 weeks amethod. The gear truck leaves for Fort Myers from Fenmethod Park On The prime of subsequent week, and exercises start at JetBlue Park in two and a half weeks.

Prior to now three months, the Purple Sox have undergone a ton of roster turnover. A lot of it has been predictable. A pair of of it has been surprising. A Little bit of it has been gut wrenching. And the evolution Will not be full.

Maintain in thoughts, this a group that commerced Mookie Betts simply as spring teaching was starting, and commerced Andrew Benintendi when it was Decrease than a month amethod. Two-and-a-half weeks isn’t A lot of time, However it’s enough to do … one factor. Opening Day Continues to be two months amethod, which Is An excellent deal of time to make adsimplyments.

So, what’s left for the Purple Sox to do and decide?

1. Don’t they want anfullly different inareaer?

Adalberto Mondesi provides the Purple Sox an fascinating center inarea selection, however he’s nonetheless rehabbing from final yr’s knee damage and Will not be on the roster when the group breaks camp.

“There’s nonetheless a strategies to Go together with that,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said this week. “Our anticipateation is that he Might Even be Barely delayed To start out the season, however Opening Day Continues to be a hazard.”

If Mondesi isn’t ready for Opening Day, who do the Purple Sox have in-house to fill the short-term center inarea void? David Hamilton, Enmanuel Valdez and Ceddanne Rafaela are The one fullly different center inareaers on the 40-man roster, and of these three, solely Valdez has performed above Double A. Veteran Niko Goodrum is coming to camp on a minor league deal And will be A quick-time period repair, however with a bench spot open anymethod — even when Mondesi is healthful, the Purple Sox Appear to have solely three bench recreationrs locked into spots — anfullly different inareaer might make sense. Bloom has expressed a want for a left-handed inareaer, and whereas Mondesi technically can Do this (he’s a change hitter), he’s been greater from The biggest facet.

The Purple Sox beforehand have been linked to left-handed hitter Joey Wendle in commerce talks (although It’d be extra sturdy to get him now thOn the Marlins have shuffled their inarea and commerced their briefsprime). Might they make A great hugeger inarea splash than that? Proper-handed hitters Elvis Andrus, José Iglesias and Josh Harrison stay out there in free agency.

2. Why not signal Definitely one of many free-agent lefties?

With Josh Taylor commerced to Kansas Metropolis, the Purple Sox are Proper down to at least one veteran left-handed reliever in Joely Rodriguez. James Paxton could Discover your self Inside the bullpen Counting on how the rotation shakes out, however there are respectable lefties nonetheless out there on the free agent market.

Andrew Chafin, Zach Britton, Matt Moore, Brad Hand And might Smith are Amongst The numerous extra notable names. Chafin and Moore are coming off pretty good yrs, Britton has recovered from Tommy John surgical procedure, and each Hand and Smith expertised one factor of a bounce again final yr. Ken Rosenthal wrote recently Regarding The proceedd availability of so many lefties and quoted one authorities saying Matt Strahm’s $15-million Deal with the Phillies “destroyed the market.” So, mightbe these guys are maintaining out for hugeger contracts than We’d anticipate?

3. Work out the rotation

This doesn’t Need to happen Immediately, and could very properly be The proceedd storyline of Purple Sox camp. As a Outcome of It is, the Purple Sox have seven starters On The very Better of their depth chart. Chris Sale and Corey Kluber are in all probability locked into two spots, and the Purple Sox have said They want Garrett Whitlock to be a starter this season. Brayan Bello, too, seems to have a leg up.

“I don’t Have to say he has a spot,” Alex Cora said this month. “But there’s a good probability that he Could have a spot.”

That leaves Tanner Houck, Nick Pivetta and James Paxton. If Everyone seems to be healthful, there Ought to be room For Decrease than Definitely one of manym. Paxton has by no means been a reliever, however well being considerations might make him the least More probably To maintain a full starter’s workload. Pivetta pitched properly Inside the pen By way of the 2021 playoffs, But in addition might be the rotation’s most reliable supply of innings. Houck’s been A fantastic reliever, however May additionally have Probably the most upfacet of the bunch.

And it’s worth asking: Is there nonetheless a commerce hazard from that group? In concept, the Purple Sox have enough Triple-A rotation depth to make a transfer if The biggest alternative presents itself.

4. Supply you An best defensive alignment

This course of might extend past spring teaching. The Purple Sox principally have on A daily basis options are all 4 nooks and designalated hitter (catcher is A complete fullly different problem, and we’ll get to that in a second). But up The center, the group is an island of mismatch toys. Or, A minimal of, They might be mismatchs. What does Kiké Hernández Appear to be as an on A daily basis briefsprime? Can Mondesi and Christian Arroyo keep healthful enough play frequently (And even semi-frequently)? Is there A method to shift Adam Duvall from center area to an outarea nook Inside the late innings?

If Mondesi will get and retains healthful, he should give the Purple Sox A lot of mix-and-match prospects (particularly In the event that they add anfullly different versatile participant to the bench). In concept, Mondesi at brief and Hernandez in center would let the Purple Sox sit Duvall in the direction of some robust righties, sit Alex Verdugo or Masataka Yoshida in the direction of robust lefties, and fortify defensively To shield slender leads.

5. Choose a catching tandem

Based mostly on the 40-man roster, the Purple Sox catcher state of aftruthfuls is pretty reduce-and-dry. Reese McGuire and Connor Wong are The one catchers on the roster, so clearly The roles are theirs. But, not so quick.

Already the Purple Sox have signaled Jorge Alfaro to a minor league deal, and MassLive’s Chris Cotillo reported this week thOn They proceed to be in talks with Roberto Pérez. Those two have A lot Of huge league expertise, Alfaro as an all-or-nofactor power hitter and Pérez as a defender with good grades for framing and pop time. Wong has an selection staying, so the Purple Sox could ship him again to Triple A In the event that they finally choose Definitely one of many fullly different two Coming out of camp. For now, it Seems to be Definitely one of many group’s Most blatant place battles.

6. Spherical out the bullpen

If the Purple Sox do signal Definitely one of many staying free agent relievers, it could settle this question as quickly as and for all. As a Outcome of It is, even with out Matt Barnes or Josh Taylor, the Purple Sox have most of their bullpen seemingly in place.

Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, John Schreiber, Joely Rodriguez and presumably Ryan Brasier have spots Sort of locked down (baring a shock with Brasier). If The complete rotation retains healthful, two extra spots could go to leftover starters. That leaves, probably, Just one spot up for seizes. Sign anfullly different lefty, and it’s in all probability carried out.

But how typically does a group break camp with all of its pitchers healthful? And extra to The objective, how typically does that happen for a pitching staff with this many apparent well being considerations? There might nonetheless be a lane for Wyatt Mills, Zack Kelly, Kaleb Ort, Kutter Crawford or Josh Winckowski to pitch his method into the Opening Day mix, and after seeing Schreiber and Whitlock emerge from obscurity the previous two yrs, the Purple Sox constructively Shall be open-thoughtsed to fullly different off-the-radar pitchers who seize their consideration in huge league camp.

7. Uncover a cleanup hitter

Maybe Alex Cora already is Aware of The reply to this question, however for The The rest of us it’s truthful to ask: Who’s going to bat 4th for this group? Furtherextra, Many people Inside the group have cautioned in the direction of assuming Yoshida Goes to be the leadoff hitter. Which Might Even be the case, However it doesn’t Look like a given.

Cora May Need to try a few fullly different lineup configurations in spring teaching, Since the group has solely two prototypical right-handed run producers (Duvall and Justin Turner) and the lefties not named Rafael Devers carry pretty a Little bit of uncertainty about adsimplying to the majors (Yoshida), producing as a rookie (Triston Casas), and settling into an offensive id as A longtime huge leaguer (Alex Verdugo).

8. Get a Take A look at what’s subsequent

That is an inevitable An factor Of every spring teaching, however for the Purple Sox it seems particularly important this yr given A pair of of the recreationrs Who’re knocking on the door to The huge leagues. How shut is Ceddanne Rafaela to being a succesful huge league hitter? Can Enmanuel Valdez defend properly enough to be a utility selection this season? Which of the presumptive Triple-A starters — Crawford, Winckowski, Bryan Mata, Brandon Walter, Chris Murphy — is biggest ready to make a spot start wheby no means needed?

Wheby no means The complete itemizing of non-roster invites to huge league camp will get launched, it’s constructive To incorporate a ton of mix-and-match prospects. The Purple Sox have principally loaded Worcester’s roster with recreationrs who can play a quantity of places, giving the Purple Sox a quantity of prospects for any particular want. And it’s worth noting that each Jarren Duran and Bobby Dalbec are additionally nonetheless Inside The combination, with Duran Notably having been singled out by Cora as a candidate to play A process Inside the outarea. A left-handed hitter with velocity wouldn’t be the worst match for the bench.

(Top photograph of Hernández: Winslow Townson / Getty Pictures)

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