Projecting the Red Sox 2016 Depth Chart
Here’s a quick look at how the Boston Red Sox depth chart is shaping up. Pitchers have been omitted, but will be coming in a later article. Each position is given a status of “No Brainer,” “Likely,” or Toss-Up.” “No Brainer” means it is given or most likely to happen while “likely” means there is a slight chance of a change. “Toss-up,” pretty self-explanatory, means no one knows for sure.
Catchers: Right now, the Red Sox have three options at the major league level for catching. They consist of Christian Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan, or Blake Swihart. I have a feeling that only two of them will be able to coexist in the big leagues, meaning that one of them will need to be DFA’d or traded. If I had my druthers, I would let go of Hanigan, because I see tremendous upside in Swihart and Vazquez. But in reality, the likelihood that Dombrowski keeps both young catchers is pretty bleak. He’ll probably try to see what he can get for one of them during Spring Training, depending on the health of Vazquez. Status: Toss-Up
First Base: The Hanley Ramirez experiment in left field was a disaster. Now let’s see how the first base experiment pans out. If crap hits the fan, then Travis Shaw could find some more playing time there, considering he played decent last season. However I have a feeling that the ops department would rather go outside the organization if Hanley’s stint there doesn’t work. Status: Toss-Up
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia will start his tenth season as the Red Sox starting second baseman. This one, if any, is the easiest to predict and discuss. Other than a lack of leadership if Pedroia were to get injured, Boston would also miss experience. There have been rumors of trades, but I think Dave Dombrowski is sticking with his clubhouse leader. They’ll need him when Ortiz is gone. Status: No Brainer
Third Base: After the signing of Pablo Sandoval last November, the Sox made it clear who they wanted to start at the hot corner. Panda has extremely good postseason numbers and fits well into their lineup and park. I expect a great year out of Sandoval after the offensive disaster which was last season. But if Sandoval slows down, don’t be surprised if Sean Coyle or Deven Marrero fills suit. Status: Likely
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts is the future of this organization. He was snubbed from the All-Star game last year and was arguably the best offensive shortstop in the American League. Additionally, his improvement at shortstop has made him one of the most dynamic two-way shortstops in all of baseball. At 23, Bogaerts has established himself as the cornerstone of this team and is set for an MVP like season. Status: No brainer
Outfield: Jackie Bradley would not have been my first choice for center field a year ago or even eight months ago. But his stellar second half in 2015 was very comforting to witness. It will be an interesting dynamic to see what happens with his relationship alongside manager John Farrell when he returns. If things don’t work out with Bradley in center, Chris Young or even Allen Craig could move to right and put Mookie Betts in center. That being said, Mookie is most likely going to be the right fielder as well as the leadoff hitter. Lastly, Rusney Castillo is the best bet for left field by process of elimination. His offense improved last season and it’s about time he began producing given his lucrative contract. Status: Likely
Designated Hitter: It’s a lock that Ortiz will be the DH for his final season in professional baseball. We’ll likely endure the “farewell tour” for at least a fraction of the season. But the Red Sox will be looking for a replacement all year long as they anticipate the future, so don’t be surprised if they try out Ramirez, Sandoval, Shaw, or others as the season goes along. Status: No-Brainer
With the Patriots loss still stinging and the Bruins clawing up the standings, many New Englanders aren’t thinking about baseball, but I smell spring in the air. See you in Fort Myers.