Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts could return on Friday

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 05: Xander Bogaerts
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 05: Xander Bogaerts /

The Boston Red Sox are expected to activate Xander Bogaerts from the disabled list this week. Who gets bumped from the roster to make room?

A Boston Red Sox lineup that already leads the league in runs scored is about to get an additional boost with the return of Xander Bogaerts.

The 25-year old shortstop is expected to make a brief rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday and Wednesday. Barring a setback, the plan is to activate Bogaerts from the 10-day disabled list on Friday.

An ankle injury suffered while chasing a ball into the dugout has limited Bogaerts to nine game this season. The initial diagnosis projected that he would miss about two weeks. It’s been two weeks as of today, so with his rehab assignment starting in a couple of days he’s not far behind schedule.

Prior to the injury, Bogaerts had been off to a blistering start to the season. He leads the Red Sox with a .368 batting average and his 1.111 OPS trails only Mookie Betts on the team. He bashed a pair of home runs and tallied nine RBI in only 38 at-bats.

The Red Sox will be thrilled to have their shortstop back but his impending return means someone else is about to be bumped from the roster. Which bench player gives up their spot to make room for Bogaerts?

Mitch Moreland and Blake Swihart can’t be optioned to the minors, so let’s rule them out. Sandy Leon is off to a dreadful start at he plate but his defensive skills provide value at a position where the glove is more important than the bat. The Red Sox aren’t prepared to have Swihart be their only backup catcher.

That leaves the choice between Tzu-Wei Lin and Brock Holt.

Lin started the season in Pawtucket, only getting the call up to the big leagues when Bogaerts went down. That would presumably make him the top option to be sent back down, yet Lin hasn’t done anything to warrant a demotion during his brief stint with the Red Sox.

Lin is 6-for-18 (.333) with an .873 OPS and two doubles in the eight games he’s appeared in this season. He also provides solid defense at three infield positions. He made a tremendous play Saturday night in Oakland, fielding a grounder to his right on a pop-up slide and firing to first base for the out.

Holt is off to a slow start, batting .243 with a .712 OPS. Last year his season was derailed by a concussion and vertigo. While he’s over those symptoms, he’s not over the slump that those symptoms led to.

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Neither utility player offers much pop but they are both capable of delivering a solid average. Holt has the higher floor given his larger sample of success at this level. Lin has the higher ceiling based on recent performances.

Holt’s greatest asset is his versatility. He can cover more positions than Lin. However, Lin provides a better glove than Holt at the positions he can play.

The case for keep Holt stems primarily from his ability to play the outfield, where Lin hasn’t been tested. With J.D. Martinez capable of vacating his DH spot to play left field and Swihart in need of more playing time, do the Red Sox really need Holt in the outfield?

Demoting a player with Holt’s experience to the minors wouldn’t come without some backlash. He’s become a fan favorite in Boston and he’s a good clubhouse guy who has developed a bond with Andrew Benintendi.

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It may not be an easy decision but it’s still the right one to make. The bottom line is that Lin has significantly outperformed Holt. He deserves to be the one to stay.