One major tweak to the 2020 MLB season is that teams will now have a 26th man on the roster instead of the previous 25-man limit. The one caveat to this rule is that teams cannot carry more than 13 pitchers on the roster.
There are a couple of question marks around the 13 pitching spots, but most of the 2020 roster is already set in stone.
Catchers: Christian Vazquez & Kevin Plawecki
Vazquez is guaranteed to be the starting catcher for the Red Sox this season, while Plawecki is likely to be the backup catcher. The 29-year old is one of three catchers that Chaim Bloom signed during the off-season. Bloom also signed Jett Bandy and Jonathan Lucroy to minor league deals with an invite to Spring Training.
Bandy is unlikely to make the Opening Day roster, while Lucroy may need more time to recover from an off-season surgery on a herniated disc. There is a possibility that the Red Sox could carry three catchers once Lucroy is healthy.
Infield: Mitch Moreland, Michael Chavis, Jose Peraza, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Tzu-Wei Lin & C.J. Chatham
Moreland, Chavis, Peraza, Bogaerts, and Devers are all guaranteed to make the roster, while Tzu-Wei Lin and Chatham will be the surprises. The Red Sox need a 6th infielder to play behind the core five, and they will most likely add a 7th to be the 26th man.
Tzu-Wei Lin has MLB experience and a lot of versatility, as he can play 2B, SS, 3B, and even CF if needed. The 7th infielder spot is up for grabs right now, but Chatham will most likely claim it, since he is already on the 40-man roster, so no corresponding move would have to be made to add him to the roster.
Two guys on the outs are Marco Hernandez and Chad De La Guerra. Neither are currently on the 40-man roster and have also not impressed so far at the start of Spring Training. Chatham will most likely beat them out solely because he has options. It is likely that Chatham will be optioned to Pawtucket around the first month of the season to make room on the roster for players returning from the Injured List.
Outfield: Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Pillar & J.D. Martinez
It may seem surprising to not see Alex Verdugo on this list, but it is unlikely he will be healthy by the time Opening Day comes around. He will take C.J. Chatham’s spot on the roster a couple of weeks into the season.
Chaim Bloom signed Kevin Pillar to a major league contract two weeks ago, and he will be a staple in the Red Sox outfield this season. Pillar will likely be the starting centerfielder against lefties, while JBJ will start against righties.
The acquisition of Pillar means Martinez will strictly be a DH this year. He could play some outfield, but it will not be needed when Verdugo is healthy.
Pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Martin Perez, Brandon Workman, Darwinzon Hernandez, Matt Barnes, Josh Taylor, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, Austin Brice, Marcus Walden, Ryan Weber & Chris Mazza
Ron Roenicke recently announced that Chris Sale will start the season on the Injured List, which means there are two rotation spots up for grabs in Spring Training.
The two guys that I believe will claim those spots are Ryan Weber and Chris Mazza. Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson will be in the running for those two spots as well, but Weber and Mazza have a higher chance to go deep into the game, which will give them the advantage.
Ryan Brasier is a hard throwing righty, but I would not say he is a guarantee to make the roster. He struggled last season, which led to a demotion to Pawtucket in July. If his fastball looks good in Spring Training, then he will make the roster.
Marcus Walden is a guy that will likely make the roster, but I would not consider it a guarantee. Walden has the ability to pitch multiple innings a game, which will come in handy for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation.
The guy I am watching in Spring Training is Austin Brice. Bloom acquired him from Miami during the off-season, and he has a good chance to make the 26-man roster. He has a funky motion that could give right-handers some trouble at the plate. The one thing he needs to work on is his control, as he walked far too many batters last season.
Featured image via Jim Davis/Boston Globe