Brian Hines (@JonLestersGhost)
The Red Sox are still in last place in the AL East as the season is coming to a close. Another lost season that won't result in a playoff appearance, except Torey Lovullo and Hanley think differently. But as the season winds down, the usual question emerges again: what will the roster look like next year? A question that is very difficult to answer and almost impossible to predict correctly. With newly acquired Dave Dombrowski in control, we'll have to see where he takes this team and organization.
In this roster prediction, you'll find my prediction along with some fans opinion and other RedSoxLife members.
The Fans Choice
A few days ago on twitter, I asked fans for their roster predictions. Some fans seemed to be living in a dream world, others were realistic. Through all the predictions here are some names that interested me:
This name was brought up by @evanjacobsevan. Obviously Chris Davis would be brought in to fill the first base need. Based on what happened with Sandoval and Hanley, I don't think the Red Sox are likely to dish out big bucks on another hitter. I think they could find a first base solution by somebody already on this team. Plus the fact that Davis is the best first baseman in a bad free agency class could make his price go even higher.
Carlos Carrasco is a name that has been rumored with Boston this season. Carrasco's name was brought to my intention by @toddsinator15. I could see this playing out as Carrasco is a fairly young arm who is under contract for multiple seasons. Carrasco has been solid this year with 12 wins to go along with a 3.53 ERA. I'd be all for Carrasco to Boston, but might have to give something significant up to get him here.
Remember how I said some fans were in dream world? Well this looks like one of those, right? Maybe not. @RedHeadSoxFan had Sale in her Red Sox roster prediction. As Sale seems like a dream target, his name has been rumored to coming to Boston several times over the past few seasons. He'd be the ace we needed, but a hefty sum of top prospects would have to be put together to get him. With Dombrowski in charge, that could be a possibility, as he's known for trading prospects for proven talent. After all he was the reason the Tigers acquired Scherzer from the Diamondbacks a while back.
RedSoxLife Staff Members
After I asked Red Sox Nation on twitter, I wanted to hear from some of the people who write for this blog if they had a prediction. I'll just let you read what they had to say:
Jim Monaghan Twitter: @Monaghan21
If I'm the Red Sox, my public stance would be different from my private stance.
Publicly, I would tell anyone and everyone in baseball that the entire roster is available for trade - if only to see what kind of interest they would draw. Privately, my list of untouchables would be very short - Eduardo Rodriguez and Xander Bogaerts. I'd still want to at least know what other teams might be willing to give up for one or the other.
I think we all know that Ortiz isn't going anywhere. John Henry has made it very clear that Papi will be in a Red Sox uniform until he retires. Pedroia probably has very little trade value at this point. While his contract from an annual salary standpoint is attractive, it's a long deal; his contract runs through the 2021 season. He simply hasn't been able to stay on the field long enough for someone to take a chance.
Holt has been exposed by playing everyday. He's a nice player with a lot of versatility but I think he's a AAAA player. Shaw is the darling of the fans right now but it's not as if he roared through the minor league system. What he's done at the major league level so far has been a bit of a surprise.
The two lightning rods - at least from the fans' perspective - appear to be Panda and HamRam. Ramirez should be jettisoned but who's taking that contract? Are the Red Sox willing to eat some of the money and if so how much? I watched Sandoval make that diving play last night and think he's FAR more athletic than he's given credit for. It might be easier to entice someone to take him off your hands than Ramirez.
1B/OF: Allen Craig
Utility: Brock Holt
C: Christian Vazquez
OF: Alejandro De Aza
Koji Uehara (closer)
Robbie Ross Jr.
First things first, Hanley Ramirez is gone. I think that is Dave Dombrowski’s first priority this offseason. Not sure what the return will be. All I know is Hanley won’t be here next year. The lineup will have two platoons next year. Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez will split time at catcher while Travis Shaw and Allen Craig split time at first. Swihart and Shaw will receive the majority of the time. Sandoval will still be here at third. It was a down year, but I expect him to recover (to some extent). The three kids (Bradley Jr., Betts, and Castillo) will roam the outfield and do wonders for an improved pitching staff.
As for that improved pitching staff, I think the Sox empty the system and acquire Sonny Gray. I don’t see them signing a David Price Johnny Cueto to a long term deal. I think a package beginning with Henry Owens and Manuel Margot could be enough to get a deal done (along with 2 or 3 more prospects). I also see the Sox acquiring a guy like Kris Medlen via trade. Medlen will be 30 next year and has had his fair share of injuries. However, he has been dominant when healthy and is a guy worth looking at. Not sure who the Sox would have to deal to make it happen though. Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello, and Wade Miley will round out the staff. Porcello and Miley should have better years and their recently signed extensions would made it tougher to move them. I think that the Sox cut ties with Buchholz and decline his option. How reliable is a guy who gets hurt every year? The Sox can’t count on him heading into next year.
The bullpen receives the biggest overhaul. I think that the Sox trade Joe Kelly and a prospect to Milwaukee for K-Rod. Milwaukee is in desperate need of starters and a good closer is a luxury they can’t afford. Offering Kelly and another pitching prospect could get it done. Ending the game with K-rod, Tazawa, and Uehara would make for a nice trio. Tyler Clippard will be acquired via free agency. He is having a down year this year, so he could be a nice buy low guy. I also think that Brandon Workman comes back from Tommy John surgery and plays a big role in this bullpen. Robbie Ross Jr. will be the left handed option while Steven Wright is the long man to round out the pen.
My 2016 Red Sox 1.0 Roster Projection
The part you've all been waiting for right? This was one of the hardest predictions I've done because the Red Sox aren't in very good shape. In this projection, you'll find the lineup is similar to this years, but the rotation and bullpen got a makeover. So lets just get into it:
Catcher: Christian Vazquez
Before getting hurt in spring training, Vazquez was suppose to be the starter this season. Last season he showed his incredible defensive skills behind the plate. He's drawn resemblance to Yadier Molina, maybe one if not the best defensive catchers in the league. If Vazquez comes back fully and has the same old cannon of an arm, the catcher position is his to loose.
First Base: Blake Swihart
So as you read about Vazquez taking his catcher position back, you're wondering where Swihart goes. Maybe he gets traded for an ace or closer, but I see him being our first base solution. If a healthy Vazquez does return, he should be the everyday catcher, leaving Swihart out of the mix. Swihart is one of the top prospects in this league and I'd love for him to remain a Sox. Swihart is an athletic, talented player who if taught the ways at first, could become an excellent first baseman in my opinion. Many will say he doesn't have a good enough bat to play first. After a slow start at the plate in the majors, he'll turn it around. I mean in 19 games back from the DL he's batting .338, and he's a top prospect for a reason.
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia is under contract until 2021, and as Jim mentioned above he hasn't been on the field enough for someone to take a chance and trade for him. So, he will be the Red Sox starting second baseman next season. Pedey underwent a wrist surgery last offseason, and was feeling healthy and had his power back. Two stints on the DL because of a hamstring injury cost Pedroia some time this season. He's only been able to play 75 games but in those games, hit .287 with 34 RBIs. Hopefully next season we can have a healthy Pedroia for a full season.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts
No surprise here obviously. The 22 year old top prospect has been one of the best shortstops in the league this season. He's hit .313 with 60 RBIs and carries a fielding percentage of .985. Bogaerts has a bright career ahead of him as the Red Sox shortstop.
Third Base: Hanley Ramirez
One of the first things Dombrowski will do, or try to do, will be clearing Sandoval or Ramirez. I think he'll stick with Hanley because he can take over the DH position when Ortiz retires, and his contract is one year shorter. Hanley's played third in his career before, so hopefully a full time switch would go relatively smoothly.
Left Field: Mookie Betts
Another 22 year old top prospect that has had a good season. Mookie has batted .271 with 58 RBIs and his field percentage is standing at .993. This year, Mookie will transition to mainly left field, and have to learn the ways of the monster. He should have no problem and look to continue having another strong season next year.
Center Field: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Why is Mookie playing left? Cause the best defensive outfielder in the league has to take center. After an ugly season last year, Bradley took the offseason to figure out how to hit the ball again. In his 101 at bats this season, Bradley has held an .882 OPS, second on the team behind Travis Shaw. While I doubt he can stay this hot for a whole season, I want that defense on the field, even if he's hitting .260 or .270.
Right Field: Rusney Castillo
The big name brought in last season disappointed when called up earlier in the season. After Victorino was shipped out of town, Castillo became the everyday right fielder, and he hasn't disappointed. Since he was recalled on July 27th, Castillo has hit .375 (30-80), with four homers and 19 RBIs. This production is why he earned that massive contract from the Sox last season. Lets hope Castillo saves some power for next season when he officially becomes the starting right fielder.
DH: David Ortiz
Any surprise here? Papi will be here next season and make his money. But 2016 may be the last time we see Ortiz in a Red Sox uniform.
Utility: Brock Holt
Holt could be a trade piece, but for now he's here in Boston. He's the ultimate guy on the bench because he can play anywhere you want him to basically.
Catcher: Ryan Hanigan
As Swihart gets moved to first, the Red Sox will need a backup catcher.The veteran Hanigan will be that guy. Hanigan has been decent this season and will continue as the backup for another season.
Infield: Travis Shaw
Shaw has impressed mightily with his latest stint in Boston. He should be here next season and might start at first if Swihart isn't moved there. The reason I write infield here is because of his ability to play first and third.
Outfield: Alejandro De Aza
While De Aza could be gone, I can see him sticking around and being the fourth outfielder. They could also look for a guy in free agency, but for now I'm going with De Aza.
Starting Pitcher: David Price
Good start right? I think after this season the Red Sox realize they need that ace and Price is that guy. He's proved he can succeed in the American League, especially in the AL East. While guys like Cueto or Zimmerman are intriguing here, I want Price because of his AL East history. Price has proved to be durable throughout his career, and the new man in charge (Dave Dombrowski), was the one to acquire Price from the Rays last season. Dombrowski had talks with Price in Detroit about contract renewals before they both left. Dave knows what he wants so the Red Sox may already be leading the Price bidding. While guys like Gray and Sale are available. I don't want to giveaway the whole farm system for them, but Dombrowski might.
Starting Pitcher: Clay Buchholz
You hate to see this name here, I know. But Clay had a excellent season going for him before he got hurt (anybody surprised?). Clay has proved he can pitch well, but needs to stay healthy. But returning at a reasonable rate, Buchholz should succeed, and if (when?) he goes down, Boston needs to make sure they have a guy who can replace him. This could very well be Clay's last year in Boston, or it could lead to a few more years of success.
Starting Pitcher: Eduardo Rodriguez
Another young man who impressed this season. Rodriguez is the result of maybe Ben Cherington's best trade in Boston. Since he's came to Boston during last years trade deadline, he hasn't disappointed. While the 4.39 ERA might be deceiving, Rodriguez has allowed 2 or fear runs in 11 out of his 16 starts. He's only 22 and will get better and hopefully make a major jump in year 2.
Starting Pitcher: Rick Porcello
Hopefully Dave Dombrowski can work some magic and trade Porcello for a second time. But with that contract the Red Sox gave him, it seems unlikely. Porcello has been straight out bad this season. He carries a 5.81 ERA and has won just 5 out of his 20 starts. Hopefully Dombrowski can move him, but if not we have to hope for a rebound.
Starting Pitcher: Wade Miley
Miley has had his bright spots this season. He is a fine 5 starter who can give you a solid amount of quality innings. In his rookie year, Miley was an All-Star for Arizona. In his second year in Boston, lets hope Miley can get back to his All-Star days.
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Another good start right? While this may seem like one of the fantasies, I see this as a possibility. I can see Dombrowski putting together a package of Sandoval and a few solid prospects (no Betts, Bogaerts, etc.) and shipping them to a team needing help in San Diego. The Red Sox were rumored to be acquiring a closer at the deadline, and Kimbrel's name was one of them. The Red Sox need bullpen help, and acquiring one of the best closers in the game wouldn't hurt.
Set-Up Man: Koji Uehara
One major reason we need a closer is Koji will be 41 next season, and coming off wrist surgery. Great combo right? If Koji comes back healthy, he'll be a great set-up man for Kimbrel. Uehara proved he still had it this season piling up 25 saves while keeping a 2.23 ERA. We will have to see if Koji has anything left next season.
As Kimbrel comes in and Koji gets knocked down, Tazawa gets knocked down to the 7th inning guy. Tazawa's had a solid season, but has struggled late. He should turn things around just fine this offseason. Teams have made deep playoff runs because of the back end of there bullpen, and Tazawa, Koji, Kimbrel could propel the Sox into the playoffs.
After a few rough starts, Kelly has turned things around lately. But I still see him in the pen next year. I don't think there room in the rotation next season for Kelly, which would lead to the pen, if not traded.
Wright isn't really a reliever, but he'll be here as the teams 6th starter almost. If a starter goes down, Wright will be there to step in. But if needed, he'll get the job done in the pen.
Heres a new name. Furbush has been linked to the Red Sox before. The first five people in this bullpen are righties. The Sox need some lefties in the pen. Left handed hitters have had just a .484 OPS against Furbush since 2014. Out of all left handed relievers, that ranks 6th. I would not be surprised if the Sox made a move to acquire a lefty or two like Furbush.
Thoughts or comments? Let me know below or find me on Twitter @JonLestersGhost