Most improved roster odds
Jonathan Lucroy: The veteran catcher was a non-roster invitee who came to camp aiming to earn the backup role behind Christian Vazquez. He was impressive this spring, hitting .300 with a .881 OPS but didn’t do enough to overtake Kevin Plawecki (.474 average, 1.126 OPS). Lucroy is a favorite of manager Ron Roenicke from their days together in Milwaukee. He’ll probably never regain the All-Star form he showcased with the Brewers but an offseason procedure on his ailing neck should lead to a bounce-back year.
The Red Sox were considering carrying three catchers on their 26-man roster and that strategy becomes much easier with more open spots available.
Brian Johnson: With Chris Sale lost for the season and Collin McHugh still working his way back from an elbow strain, the Red Sox are starved for pitching. Johnson was a disaster in his limited opportunities to start last year but he’s shown enough potential in the past to warrant consideration for a back of the rotation spot.
Johnson made five appearances this spring, including two starts, allowing only four runs over 9 1/3 innings (3.86 ERA).
The delayed season has given McHugh more time to recover so he may not end up missing time after all. Boston has also toyed with the idea of using an Opener if they can’t find five viable starters. Even if the Red Sox don’t trust Johnson enough to stick in the rotation, he can still eat innings as a long reliever and make the occasional spot start.
Bobby Dalbec: His chances to make the Opening Day roster took a hit when the Red Sox brought back Mitch Moreland but Dalbec is back on the radar with the additional roster spots up for grabs. He’s one of the top prospects in the organization and his impressive power stroke could give Boston’s lineup a boost. Dalbec swatted 27 home runs in time split between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last year.