So far, we have gone over the 25 men whom I expect to make 2014’s Opening Day roster barring injuries. However, it’s a long season and problems such as injuries and ineffectiveness will arise, prompting a few more names to join the 25-man roster throughout the year. So, right now we’ll take a look at five extra players that will almost certainly be up in Boston at some time during the year and do some player profiles for the sake of expanding our horizons.
Brock Holt: It now seems like years ago, but back when Will Middlebrooks had been demoted and was residing in Pawtucket, Brock Holt spent a bit of time as the starting third baseman of the Red Sox. It wasn’t all too pretty on the hitting side as he slashed just .203/.275/.237, but Holt showed off some decent defensive versatility and could come in handy as a utility man. The acquisition of Jonathan Herrera, basically a more major-league proven version of Holt, renders him useless unless/until injuries come into play. However, there’s a solid chance that Holt comes to be handy at some point during the season. It likely won’t be for his power bat, but at his best he could hit for a decent average with impressive defensive versatility.
Ryan Lavarnway: Lavarnway has been more or less left for dead in the Red Sox’ organization. After a huge 2011 minor league season, he has become essentially a non-factor in both prospect rankings and generally in the depth of the team. For three consecutive offseasons, the Red Sox have denied him a chance to be a contributor on the major league roster, signing Kelly Shoppach for 2012, David Ross for 2013, and A.J. Pierzysnki for 2014. With that in mind, it’s easy to forget that in admittedly minimal playing time last season, Lavarnway actually swung the bat fairly well as he slashed .299/.329/.429. It’s unclear if Lavarnway will be in the Red Sox’ longterm plans, but he will likely see the majors a bit next season.
Jose Mijares: Signed to a minor-league deal just yesterday, Mijares represents another low-risk, high-reward signing for the Red Sox. If used in the right role, Mijares has proven to be a valuable commodity, showing himself to be quite effective versus left-handed hitters. He has allowed just a .225/.288/.335 slash line against same-side hitters in his career. However, he was struck by an absurdly high BABIP of .410 in 2013, which saw his ERA rise to 4.22 despite relatively strong peripheral stats; his 9.9 K/9 rate was the second best of his career and his 2.70 K/BB ratio was well above his career average. Mijares will likely serve as insurance in case Andrew Miller is unable to start the season healthy and has to spend some time on the disabled list and will likely see the majors if another lefty reliever such as Craig Breslow goes down with injury.
Grady Sizemore: Also signed earlier this week, Sizemore represents the definition of a high-risk, low-reward signing. In his heyday from 2005-2008, Sizemore was one of the best players in baseball but multiple surgeries to his knee, elbow, and back have set him back several years and he has not played since 2011 and has not played well since 2009. However, even though Sizemore did sign a major league deal, it was only worth $750K and the Red Sox should not hesitate to cut him in the event of a setback, whether due to injury or being unable to hit major league pitching after such a long absence. In any case, it will be interesting to see how this Sizemore situation plays itself out, as a full healthy Sizemore would be a huge addition to an already promising Red Sox team.
Brandon Workman: The Workman situation is one of the trickiest roster crunches in the organization right now. Workman proved last year, and particularly in the playoffs, that he is major league ready. However, the Red Sox seemingly went out of their way this offseason to make sure Workman would not have to start the season in Boston as they picked up Burke Badenhop and Edward Mujica. Perhaps they would prefer Workman to train as a starter in the long run, but with so much depth in their major league and minor league rotation, it seems Workman could be destined for the bullpen in the long run. Either way, his strong peripheral stats (10.2 K/9, 3.2 BB/9) ensure that Workman will be one of, if not the first one called up in the event of an injury to either the rotation or bullpen.