98.5 The Sports Hub staff report
The Boston Red Sox have their opening group of 47 for Spring Training 2.0, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom revealed Sunday. The group features a mix of mainstays, prospects, and invitees, and could expand up to 60 between now and the start of the 60-game 2020 regular season, which is set for July 23-24.
The Red Sox also announced that their first pitchers and catchers workout is scheduled for July 3 in Boston.
Here’s who the Red Sox are bringing to their restart camp…
CATCHERS: Jett Bandy, Juan Centeno, Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez, and Connor Wong.
Christian Vazquez is the obvious star of this group, and is coming off a 2019 that featured career-highs in OPS (.798), hits (133), doubles (26), home runs (23), and RBI (72) and games (138). The Sox signed the veteran Plawecki, who spent the 2019 season with the Indians and has appeared in 296 career games between the Tribe and New York Mets, to a one-year deal back in January.
A notable omission from this list? Jonathan Lucroy. The Red Sox reportedly signed the 34-year-old to a minor-league deal back in February, but with no minor-league baseball in 2020, Lucroy’s deal seemed up in the air. But Lucroy will be part of Boston’s camp once that deal is reworked, according to multiple reports. A two-time All-Star, Lucroy hit .232 with eight homers and 36 RBIs in 101 games between the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs last season.
INFIELDERS: Jonathan Araúz, Xander Bogaerts, C.J. Chatham, Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Marco Hernández, Tzu-Wei Lin, Mitch Moreland, Yairo Muñoz, and José Peraza.
The Red Sox will hope to be carried by what might be the best left-side infield tandem in baseball with Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. The team also added some notable depth to the position this past offseason, too, with the signing of Jose Peraza and addition of Jonathan Arauz via the Rule 5 Draft. Peraza, a utility infielder who actually spent some time in the outfield as well last year, is a career .273 hitter between the Reds and Dodgers.
Bobby Dalbec, a fourth-round pick in 2016 and one of the organization’s top prospects, certainly seems like a name to watch here. In a 2019 split between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, the 24-year-old cranked out 27 homers, 19 doubles, and drove in 73 RBIs.
OUTFIELDERS: John Andreoli, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Kevin Pillar, César Puello, and Alex Verdugo.
With Mookie Betts off to the Dodgers in what was an exhausting trade, the Red Sox will lean on an outfield that will feature Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. as its constants, and with Kevin Pillar and Alex Verdugo likely in a platoon role.
In 2019, Pillar hit a career-high 21 home runs and drove in 87 runs for the Giants, and is a career .307 hitter at Fenway Park. Verdugo, meanwhile, has been given a clean bill of health following some offseason back issues.
Expect J.D. Martinez to once again be Boston’s designated hitter.
PITCHERS: Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Austin Brice, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Hall, Kyle Hart, Heath Hembree, Darwinzon Hernandez, Brian Johnson, Robinson Leyer, Chris Mazza, Collin McHugh, Josh Osich, Martín Pérez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Mike Shawaryn, Jeffrey Springs, Domingo Tapia, Josh Taylor, Phillips Valdez, Marcus Walden, Ryan Weber, and Brandon Workman.
With Chris Sale done for the season, David Price traded to L.A., and Rick Porcello departing as a free agent, Eduardo Rodriguez will assume the role of Boston’s ace. This won’t be entirely foreign to the 27-year-old lefty, as he was the staff’s best pitcher in ’19, with a career-high 19 wins, 213 strikeouts, and 3.81 ERA.
Additions to the starting staff include Martin Perez and Collin McHugh. A clear No. 4 at his very best, Perez had 10 wins in 29 starts for the Twins last year, while McHugh, a 19-game winner for the 2015 Astros, will look to rebound from elbow issues that have limited his availability as a starter over the last three seasons (just 20 of his 105 appearances since 2017 have been as a starter).
At the end of the staff, Brandon Workman has been tabbed as the team’s closer for the 2020 season. Appearing in a career-high 73 games last season, the 6-foot-5 Workman held opponents to a .123 batting average and converted on 16 of his 22 save opportunities.