The Boston Red Sox just got done finishing in last place for the second time in the past three seasons. They lost Xander Bogaerts to the Padres without putting up much of a fight to keep him. The owner got booed at Red Sox Winter Weekend. The owner also got booed at the Winter Classic hockey game at Fenway Park. Fans are still mad about Mookie Betts getting traded. Boston eventually started making moves this offseason, but it’s still not a great time for baseball fans in Beantown at the moment!
Expectations for 2023
Are the Red Sox good enough to win the division? If they were in the AL Central, they’d have a shot at it with this roster. Unfortunately, they’re in the perennial minefield known as the AL East, and I’d be shocked if this team was in any sort of real contention to win the division. (Projection systems have them somewhere around a five percent chance to do so.) A Wild Card berth seems like a possibility, with a 20-25 percent chance of happening right now, but that would be a real fight for this crew. This could also just completely blow up in their faces again and they could end up right back in the cellar. Despite having a busy offseason, it’s still all up in the air for Boston at the moment, and the Red Sox look like a 79-81-win team that needs a lot of stuff to break right to see meaningful games late in the season.
Via Roster Resource:
- Triston Casas - 1B
- Rafael Devers - 3B
- Justin Turner - DH
- Masataka Yoshida - LF
- Alex Verdugo - RF
- Enrique Hernandez - SS
- Adam Duvall - CF
- Reese McGuire - C
- Christian Arroyo - 2B
Jorge Alfaro - C
Bobby Dalbec - 1B/3B
Yu Chang - INF
Rob Refsnyder - OF
Rotation: Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford
Bullpen: Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, John Schreiber, Joely Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier, Richard Bleier, Kaleb Ort, Josh Winckowski
Their lineup can still do a decent amount of hitting, even if they’re going to be missing Trevor Story for most of the season and will surely miss having Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez in that lineup. If Masataka Yoshida can make a quick adjustment to MLB then that should definitely help and we all know what Adam Duvall can do if he gets on a heater. Plus it should go without saying that Rafael Devers is still capable of doing enough to keep the production going.
Having Devers is probably this roster’s biggest strength, and while it’s not entirely clear what anyone can expect from Yoshida, he could be a big boost in left for a team whose roster is mostly just... okay otherwise.
If the Red Sox have another rough season, the lack of depth all around the roster could be a big reason why. In the rotation, the Red Sox have:
- 36-year-old Corey Kluber, who was injured for most of the three years prior to 2022
- 33-year-old Chris Sale, who has barely pitched over the past three years
- 34-year-old James Paxton, who also has barely pitched over the last three years, and likely won’t make the Opening Day roster due to a hamstring issue
- Garrett Whitlock, who only has nine major league starts to his credit and is out with a hip problem
- Brayan Bello, who despite reportedly learning from Pedro Martinez, is out with a forearm issue
- ...and Nick Pivetta, who is healthy, but looks more like an innings sponge.
That’s a lot of injuries to be dealing with already, and it’s still mid-March.
The position player side of things is also a mess. Adam Duvall is currently slated to start in center because Enrique Hernandez has to play short because Trevor Story had Tommy John Surgery and Adalberto Mondesi has a knee issue. Duvall is coming off a wrist injury, and if he falters or can’t play center, the Red Sox will need to turn to someone like Jarren Duran (absolutely awful in his first 300+ major league PAs) in center, or move Hernandez back to center and play... someone... it’s entirely unclear who... at short.
Overall, this isn’t a bad roster, mostly an average one without blatant weaknesses... at least until injuries happen, and then all hell seems poised to break loose.
Reinforcements from the Farm
Another reason to be concerned about depth with this team is that they’re probably not going to be receiving any help from the farm any time soon. The main reason why Boston’s farm system is rated pretty lowly at the moment (Keith Law tabbed them as only the 23rd-best farm system in his opinion) is solely because they are bereft of pitching prospects. They have four Top 100 prospects according to MLB.com and none of them are pitchers. Two of those Top 100 guys are in the Top 25 (SS Marcelo Mayer and presumed Opening Day 1B Triston Casas) and then the other two are position players.
Aside from Casas, the Red Sox are mostly going to rely on Ronaldo Hernandez (catcher) and Brandon Walter (pitcher) as potential early callups. The problem is that Walter is one arm that seems more suited for a relief role, and catcher doesn’t solve the team’s roster fragility issues. They may have to give an early promotion to Ceddane Rafaela or Gilberto Jimenez just to patch up center field, if push comes to shove.
Braves history/outlook against the Red Sox
Thanks to the fact that the Braves franchise originated in Boston, MLB designated the Red Sox as Atlanta’s interleague rivals. As a result, the two teams have faced each other nearly every year since interleague play became a thing, and the Red Sox won’t be a completely unfamiliar foe for the Braves. The series history has ebbed and flowed and the tide is currently turning in favor of Atlanta after they swept the series at Fenway Park last season. Vaughn Grissom will probably have fond memories of Fenway Park for the rest of his life. However, the Braves lost the season series to the Red Sox as recently as 2021, and the teams have largely alternated victories in this regard for the last few years.
The Braves will play host to the Red Sox on May 9 and 10, a weird two-game weekday set bookended by offdays, including one such offday in the middle of a homestand. They’ll visit Fenway Park again on July 25-26, again bookended by (travel) offdays.