Boston Red Sox

With Wednesday’s signing of Adam Duvall, the Red Sox took one step closer to completing their roster for the 2023 season. With less than a month to go before spring training, here’s the projected Red Sox lineup:

  • 1. Masataka Yoshida, LF

    YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Outfielder Masataka Yoshida #34 of Team Japan lines out into the double play in the first inning against of Team United State during the gold medal game between Team United States and Team Japan on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 07, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

    YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – AUGUST 07: Outfielder Masataka Yoshida #34 of Team Japan lines out into the double play in the first inning against of Team United State during the gold medal game between Team United States and Team Japan on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 07, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

    The Red Sox have lacked a true leadoff hitter since the departure of Mookie Betts. They believe Yoshida will fit the bill.

    The 29-year-old Yoshida was a hitting and on-base machine across the Pacific, batting .326 with a .419 OBP in his 7 seasons in Japan. He hit 21 home runs last year and is a few years removed from his career-high of 29 homers in 2019.

    The power desperate Red Sox are hoping that pop translates to the big leagues, but history shows that many Japanese hitters do not hit for as much power in the big leagues as they did in Japan.

  • 2. Justin Turner, DH

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 13: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers watches his two run homerun, to tie the game 9-9 with the Philadelphia Phillies, during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on May 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 13: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers watches his two run homerun, to tie the game 9-9 with the Philadelphia Phillies, during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on May 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    I’ll acknowledge that Rafael Devers could possibly hit second, especially given the trend in recent years in baseball to hit your best hitter second (thanks, nerds). But Alex Cora likes to avoid putting lefties back-to-back in the lineup, so I’ll slot Turner here.

    The 38-year-old Turner was an All-Star in 2021 for the Dodgers, but is coming off a down year offensively where he put up just 13 home runs. It marked the first time since 2013 since Turner recorded an OPS under .800. The Red Sox believe Turner is not declining and are hopeful his power will return by playing half his games in the shadow of the Green Monster. Many in the game believe Turner’s swing is a nice fit for Fenway Park.

  • 3. Rafael Devers, 3B

    CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 26: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox hits an RBI single during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on June 26, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

    CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 26: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox hits an RBI single during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on June 26, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

    What more needs to be said about Devers? He is the best hitter in the Red Sox lineup by a mile. Let me know if they find a way to clone him.

  • 4. Adam Duvall, CF

    ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 12: Adam Duvall #14 of the Atlanta Braves hits his second home run of the day during the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Truist Park on June 12, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

    ATLANTA, GA – JUNE 12: Adam Duvall #14 of the Atlanta Braves hits his second home run of the day during the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Truist Park on June 12, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

    Duvall is a solid role player, but is undeniably miscast as the cleanup hitter for the Boston Red Sox. There is no doubt this franchise can do better, but up until now Chaim Bloom and company have chosen not to do better.

    The Red Sox are hoping for a Hunter Renfroe-like impact from Duvall, who has legitimate power and a swing made for Fenway Park. But he is coming off a wrist injury that derailed his 2022 season and has proven he does not hit for average (a career .230 hitter).

    The 34-year-old Duvall comes to the Red Sox from the Braves, where he was a key trade pickup in Atlanta’s World Series run in 2021. He had one of the best seasons of his career in 2021, hitting 38 home runs between Miami and Atlanta and winning a gold glove.

    It’s important to note that Duvall has spent most of his time playing corner outfield, but he has played 75 games in centerfield in his career and by all accounts he has represented himself well in center.

  • 5. Alex Verdugo, RF

    May 25, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo (99) hits an RBI-single against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

    May 25, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo (99) hits an RBI-single against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

    Alex Cora did not hesitate when he was asked who on the Red Sox could give them more in 2023: Alex Verdugo.

    The centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade had an up-and-down 2022. Verdugo started slow but was better after June 1, hitting .302 with 8 home runs and 50 RBI. Still, the Red Sox were hoping they were getting an outfielder who would turn into an All-Star quality player when they acquired Verdugo. Instead, they have gotten a perfectly average player who hit just 11 home runs last season and has proven he can’t play centerfield.

    This feels like a critical year for the 26-year-old, who is two years away from free agency. The Red Sox could look to move on should Verdugo not take a significant step forward.

  • 6. Kiké Hernandez, SS

    NEW YORK, NY - JULY 18: Second baseman Enrique Hernández #5 gets the force out on DJ LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees on a fielders choice hit by Giancarlo Stanton #27 during the third inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK, NY – JULY 18: Second baseman Enrique Hernández #5 gets the force out on DJ LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees on a fielders choice hit by Giancarlo Stanton #27 during the third inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

    As of right now, Hernandez is your starting shortstop. That very well could change by opening day if the Red Sox add another middle infielder. Elvis Andrus and Jose Iglesias are the most likely free agent targets at this point.

    But what won’t change is Hernandez’s starting role on this team. He will likely split time between middle infield and centerfield and will be in the lineup every day.

    The Red Sox need Kike to bounce back after an injury-plagued 2022 season. He batted just .222 with a .629 OPS in 92 games.

  • 7. Triston Casas, 1B

    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 06: Triston Casas #36 of the Boston Red Sox hits a two run home run in the second inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 06, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 06: Triston Casas #36 of the Boston Red Sox hits a two run home run in the second inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 06, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    Hopes are high for Casas, who projects as a power hitting first baseman for many years to come. He showed excellent plate discipline in his first taste of the big leagues in 2022, but left some Sox fans hoping he would be more aggressive at the plate. Additionally, he proved he can play a big league quality first base, something the Red Sox have sorely lacked for the last two seasons.

    In an ideal world, Casas will hit the ground running in his first full year in the majors and will move up the order to provide more power in the top half of the lineup. But to start the year, look for Cora to slot Casas lower in the lineup to try and alleviate any pressure the 23-year-old might feel.

  • 8. Christian Arroyo, 2B

    SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PA - AUGUST 21: Christian Arroyo #39 of the Boston Red Sox in action during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Bowman Field on August 21, 2022 in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

    SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PA – AUGUST 21: Christian Arroyo #39 of the Boston Red Sox in action during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Bowman Field on August 21, 2022 in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

    An apparent favorite of Bloom’s, Arroyo right now would be an every day player for the Red Sox.

    Arroyo goes through stretches where he is a valuable role player, and there’s no denying he can hit lefties. But he has proven over the course of his career that he cannot stay healthy. He appeared in just 57 games in 2021 and 87 games last year. He is an IL trip waiting to happen.

    Counting on Arroyo to be an every day player would be nothing short of foolish – almost as foolish as trying to make him a right fielder last season. The Sox must add middle infield help between now and the start of the season.

  • 9. Reese McGuire/Connor Wong, C

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 24: Reese McGuire #3 of the Boston Red Sox throws during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on August 24, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 24: Reese McGuire #3 of the Boston Red Sox throws during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on August 24, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    A few months ago, it seemed like catcher was a big need for the Red Sox. But McGuire and Wong surprised many with their performances down the stretch in 2022 and have apparently shown the Red Sox enough to try out this platoon entering 2023.

    The Sox also signed veteran catcher Jorge Alfaro to a minor league contract this week. The 29-year-old put up a .667 OPS in 82 games for the Padres last season and could push for a roster spot should Wong falter in his first real season in the big leagues.