Pre-Arbitration eligible players
The Red Sox also have a number of players with less than three seasons of experience that aren’t eligible for arbitration yet.
Mookie Betts is among the best bargains in baseball, a potential MVP making just above the league minimum. The Red Sox should give him a bit of a bump in salary as a sign of good faith toward future negotiations, but he’ll still be dirt cheap until he becomes arbitration eligible in 2018. Betts is another candidate for the Red Sox to explore a long term deal with to buy out some free agency years, if he’s open to it.
In the other corner of the outfield is Andrew Benintendi, who will remain rookie eligible in 2017 and years away from pushing the Red Sox into shelling out big bucks to keep him around. Boston has arguably the best outfield in the majors and they are all young, cost-controlled emerging stars.
A disappointing second half spoiled a promising start to the season for Travis Shaw, but he’ll be in the mix for the third base job heading into next season. There’s also currently an open spot at DH, which Shaw could fill, or he could take over at first base if Hanley Ramirez becomes the DH. Shaw isn’t arbitration eligible until 2019, so he’ll offer a cheap solution for whichever role he earns.
Steven Wright should be a lock for a rotation spot as long as the kunckleballer can return to form following a season-ending shoulder injury. He’s not arbitration eligible until 2018, so the production the rotation gets from his bargain salary helps balance out David Price‘s hefty contract.
Eduardo Rodriguez will also compete for a spot in the back end of the rotation while making close to the league minimum.
The bullpen will have a few pre-arbitration eligible pitchers vying for a roster spot, including Carson Smith, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, Noe Ramirez and Robby Scott. Henry Owens is on the 40-man roster, but likely to start the season in Triple-A as a starter.
Blake Swihart, Marco Hernandez and Deven Marrero are also pre-arbitration players on the 40-man roster that could be in line for a bench spot. Top prospect Yoan Moncada could also compete for a spot, but is more likely to begin the year in the minors after he was exposed against breaking balls from big league pitchers.