Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox added a big bat to the order and a terrific defender when they signed free agent infielder Trevor Story to a six-year deal for $140 million over the weekend. As a natural shortstop, Story will likely play second base instead in 2022, while Xander Bogaerts will stay put.

The Story signing improves the Red Sox offensively entering 2022, but raises questions about the infield moving forward. Beginning with the most pressing, the Red Sox now have multiple premium options at shortstop.

Bogaerts remains one of the most productive offensive players at the position. Defensively, however, Bogaerts has struggled and is nearing a point in his career where his play with the glove could force him to switch positions.

Bogaerts’ lack of mobility and range affects his ability to stretch his capabilities as a defender. He most recently posted minus-5 defensive runs saved in 2021, according to Fangraphs.

Story comes to Boston with more defensive prowess at the position. He registered nine defensive runs saved in 2021, which was good for fourth-best among all shortstops.

Bogaerts enters this season with an opt-out of his contract. Bogaerts signed an extension in 2019 to relatively team-friendly terms of six years and $120 million. Since then, the 29-year-old expressed his intention to opt out of his current deal in favor of a new contract. If he stays, he could flip positions with Story. If not, he will depart from Boston to cash in and stay at shortstop elsewhere.

Elsewhere across the infield, positional battles are up for grabs in coming seasons at first base. Bobby Dalbec gets the starting job in 2022, but will need to create more contact to go along with his standout power potential. With Triston Casas slugging his way through the minor leagues, Boston will have decisions to make about how he will fit in as well.

These are good problems for the Red Sox, with positional battles fueling competition between talented ballplayers that will only enhance a bright future in this area of the roster.

The Story signing gives the Red Sox an immediate boost with both his bat and glove in 2022, while offering flexibility in the near future.

Read below for more from 985TheSportsHub.com…

5 players to watch during Red Sox Spring Training

  • After what felt like an impossibly long offseason, Red Sox baseball officially returns on Thursday. The abbreviated 19-game Spring Training schedule begins with a St. Patrick’s Day matinee against the Twins at JetBlue Park.

    In those 19 games, the Red Sox have a number of questions to answer regarding their roster. While some of the holes could be filled by remaining free agents, in-house options can’t be ignored.

    Who on the roster has the most to gain over the next three weeks? Here are the players to watch as Opening Day approaches.

  • 1B Triston Casas

    WORCESTER – Triston Casas steps up to the plate during the final home game of the inaugural season at Polar Park on Sunday, September 26, 2021.

    Casas is a non-roster invitee to Red Sox camp, but may end up with more eyes on him than any other player. The 22-year-old has been the top prospect in the Sox’s system for some time, and is expected to make his debut at some point this season. There’s currently a need at first base, so the quicker Casas is ready, the better. Spring training will serve as a barometer as to just how close he is.

    At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Casas won’t just give the Red Sox their first baseman but should add powerful left-handed bat to the middle of the lineup as well. The 2018 first-round pick slashed .279/.394/.484 last year with 14 home runs in 86 games mostly at the Triple-AAA level.

  • INF Jeter Downs

    FORT MYERS, FLORIDA – MARCH 14: Jeter Downs #20 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the Minnesota Twins during a Grapefruit League spring training game at Hammond Stadium on March 14, 2021 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    Downs was one of the three players acquired in the Mookie Betts trade, and at 23-years-old could be due to make his MLB debut this season. Although he’s primarily a shortstop, he can play second base as well.

    The situation at second base is similar to the one at first, To start the year, it will likely be filled by a platoon of Hernandez and Christian Arroyo. Yet if Downs can have a strong Spring Training then get hot to start the season in the minors, he could potentially enter the equation this summer.

  • OF Jarren Duran

    Jul 17, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jarren Duran (40) runs to first after hitting a single against the New York Yankees during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. The hit was the first of his MLB career in his first ever plate appearance. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 17, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jarren Duran (40) runs to first after hitting a single against the New York Yankees during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. The hit was the first of his MLB career in his first ever plate appearance. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Another top prospect in the system who made his debut last season, a lot could be asked of Duran this year. Right now, the outfield is lefty-heavy with Duran, Alex Verdugo, and Jackie Bradley. Kiké Hernandez should also be in the rotation, but he could factor in at second base as well.

    With Bradley expected to be a platoon player, Duran’s role could be a regular one. The good news is that in the minors last year, he actually hit significantly better against lefties (.296 average) than righties (.243). At the same time, his power numbers were better against right-handed pitchers.

    That success didn’t translate completely in the majors, where he hit .215 in 33 games. Yet a well-rounded bat like the one he’s shown he could be would be incredibly valuable in this lineup. Spring Training will be a chance to see if he’s improved at the plate against MLB pitching.

     

  • RHP Garrett Whitlock

    Jun 27, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) delivers a pitch during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park.

    Whitlock was a breakout star for the Red Sox last year in the bullpen. However, it’s worth remembering the reason he was in the bullpen is the Rule 5 pick was coming off of Tommy John surgery, and the team wanted to be careful with his innings.

    Now two years removed from the procedure, Whitlock – who was a starter throughout his time coming up in the Yankees’ system – should be ready to handle an extended workload. The Red Sox are thin both in their rotation and the bullpen, so Whitlock could land anywhere. Where will he end up? Spring Training should help give us a clearer picture of his future.

  • RHP Matt Barnes

    Jun 6, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Matt Barnes (32) pitches against the New York Yankees during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 6, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Matt Barnes (32) pitches against the New York Yankees during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    As mentioned above, the Red Sox’s bullpen is thin as things stand right now. It’s only going to get thinner without a closer. Barnes, who signed a two-year extension last summer – was great through the first half of last season earning himself an All-Star nod. However, he posted a 6.48 ERA and 1.62 WHIP over his final 22 appearances after the break. He made just one appearance in the ALDS, and was left off the ALCS roster.

    Barnes will look to return to his early-season form from that woeful second half this year, with the closer role open for the taking. Spring Training will be his first chance to show he’s bounced back.

New dates for Red Sox Spring Training, Opening Day, home opener

  • Major League Baseball is officially back from what ended up being a 99-day lockout, meaning the Red Sox will be returning to action soon. However, with time lost to the work stoppage, the MLB calendar for March and April had to be adjusted.

    The league still plans to play a 162 game season, but Spring Training and Opening Day have now been pushed back. Those games set to be played the first two weeks of the year will be made up during the season.

    It will be a 27-day build-up from the end of the lockout to the beginning of the regular season. Here’s the important dates to know along the way.

  • Free agency – Now

    Feb 27, 2020; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox general manager Chaim Bloom takes questions from reporters during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

    Free agency is already underway, having officially begun at 7 p.m. Thursday night. You can find a list of potential Red Sox free agents here. In addition, teams can negotiate with their own players about contract extensions – which is something to watch for between the Red Sox and 25-year-old third baseman Rafael Devers.

  • Players report to Spring Training – March 13

    Feb 22, 2021; Lee County, Florida, USA; A general view as players walk onto the field during Boston Red Sox spring training at Jet Blue Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

    The latest players can report to Spring Training is this Sunday, Mar. 13. However, some players are already in Fort Myers and have begun working out.

  • Spring Training games begin – March 17-18

    Feb 24, 2019; Fort Myers, FL, USA; A general view of the left field wall aka the green monster at JetBlue Park prior to the spring training game between the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    The exact schedule is still being worked out, but Spring Training camps will begin late next week. It’s unknown how much of the previous schedule will hold up, but the Red Sox are currently set to play the Toronto Blue Jays Mar. 18 at 1:05 p.m. at JetBlue Park.

  • Opening Day – April 7

    Jun 4, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) celebrates his three run home run against the New York Yankees with Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Ultimately, Opening Day ended up being pushed back a total of eight days, from Mar. 31 to Apr. 7. Now, the Red Sox open their season with a three-game series in the Bronx against the Yankees. The first game will be on Thursday, with Friday set as an off day incase of inclement weather. The series will resume Saturday and Sunday.

  • Home opener – April 15

    Apr 5, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Four F-16’s from the 134th Fighter Squadron from Burlington, Vermont’s Air National Guard do a fly-over before the start of the of the Boston Red Sox home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    After stops in New York and Detroit, the Red Sox finally return to Boston a week into the season. Patriots’ Day weekend begins with the Red Sox home opener against the Twins on Friday at 2 p.m. (the game was originally scheduled for 7:00). It’s the first of a four-game series, which wraps up the morning of Marathon Monday. The Red Sox will play a seven-game home stand against Minnesota and Toronto – their only home games in the month of April.

  • Make-up games

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 05: A view of a sunset behind the grandstand and Fenway Park sign during the second inning of the game between the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 05, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    At some point, the Red Sox will need to make up the games from the first weeks of the season – three against the Rays and three against the Orioles. All six games were scheduled to be played at Fenway Park.

    Although those makeup dates haven’t been set, the league announced all games from the first week will be played as double-headers later in the season. The Orioles will be at Fenway May 27-30 and Sept. 27-29, with Tampa coming to Boston July 4-6 and Aug. 26-28.

Click here for complete Boston Red Sox coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.