Boston Red Sox: Biggest takeaways from initial roster pool

Red Sox infielders Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Red Sox infielders Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Takeaways from the Boston Red Sox initial roster pool.

One of the many changes that Major League Baseball has implemented for this season is a 60-player roster pool consisting of those eligible to play in the majors. The Boston Red Sox provided their list of players but what they provided amounts to a rough draft.

Teams were not required to send their full 60-player roster by Sunday afternoon’s deadline and the Red Sox included only 47 players in their initial pool. The remaining 13 players will be added as the club evaluates their needs during Spring Training 2.0, which begins at Fenway Park this week.

The usual suspects were predictably included so there aren’t any major surprises. Yoan Aybar and Marcus Wilson are the only two members of the 40-man roster who were not included. Aybar hasn’t played above Single-A so he’s not a candidate to make his big league debut this year. Wilson thrived in Salem last year to earn a promotion to Double-A. He could be on the radar if he earns one of the remaining spots in the player pool.

The outfield lacks depth beyond those expected to open the season on the active roster. The starting trio of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Alex Verdugo is complimented by the right-handed bat of Kevin Pillar. John Andreoli and Cesar Puello have been underwhelming in their limited major league experience and neither is on the 40-man roster.

The limited viable options in the outfield might clear a path for Wilson or another young prospect with upside, such as Jarren Duran, to make the cut when the remaining 13 players are added to the pool.

J.D. Martinez could play the outfield in a pinch but he’ll typically be relegated to DH duty, especially with the DH being implemented in both leagues this year.

Brian Johnson was among the ten players included in the pool who aren’t currently on the 40-man roster. Boston’s thin pitching depth and his big league experience make the lefty a potential option to see spot starts this year.

Bobby Dalbec and C.J. Chatham are a pair of infield prospects that many predicted would make their big league debuts this year. There might not be a need for them in a shortened season but the expanded rosters could provide an opportunity. Playing time would be sparse, barring injuries, but if there’s no minor league season for them to continue their development then they might as well get the chance to acclimate to the major league environment if there is room on the active roster.

Connor Wong was included on the list but the prospect who came with him in the blockbuster deal with the Dodgers last winter was not. Jeter Downs is the top prospect in the organization so his absence is notable despite that he’s a long shot to reach the majors this year.

Triston Casas falls in a similar category. He and Downs are the only Red Sox prospects ranked in MLB Pipeline’s top 100. Neither is major league ready but their top prospect status could earn them a spot in the player pool anyway.

Jonathan Lucroy is another notable absence from the list but according to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo, this is merely procedural as the veteran catcher’s contract is being adjusted. Lucroy’s original minor league deal included the option to opt-out in March, so the agreement needs to be revised ahead of Spring Training 2.0.

Teams are allowed to open the season with 30 active players with the roster progressively whittling down to 26 over the first month of the schedule. The expanded roster will make it easier to carry three catchers, paving a path for Lucroy to join Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki.

The Red Sox placed Chris Sale on the 60-day disabled list over the weekend. This was expected as the lefty will miss the entire season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Rosters were frozen during baseball’s hiatus so they were only recently allowed to make this move official. This clears a spot on the 40-man roster and Lucroy is one of the top candidates to fill it.

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We should find out over the next coming weeks which players will fill the remaining spots. Boston doesn’t necessarily need to fill all 60 spots but there seems to be little reason not to. Being included in the 60-player pool doesn’t necessarily mean those players will all see time in the majors this year, only that they remain eligible.