Here’s what the Boston Red Sox lineup could look like in 2025
While there are no guarantees of Major League success when evaluating prospects, the Boston Red Sox organizational plan was thought to be clear before signing Trevor Story to a 6-year, $160 million deal: Re-sign Xander Bogaerts and lock up Rafael Devers to a long-term deal, augment the roster through free agency, and keep a steady pipeline of affordable, impact talent coming up through the minor leagues to keep the payroll below the CBT line.
While the acquisition of Story shouldn’t alter that plan dramatically, it does leave questions as to where middle infield prospects Marcelo Mayer and Nick Yorke will play when they’re ready to join the Big League club.
Mayer was drafted as a shortstop, and has played the position during his short time as a professional (26 games at the Low-A level). While his calling card is a plus grade hit tool, scouts have opined that his athleticism and baseball IQ make him a good candidate to be an above-average defender at second base, third base, or in the outfield should he necessitate a position change to get his bat into the lineup.
Yorke, who played shortstop in high school, has primarily played second base as a pro, and now ranks among the top second base prospects in the game. He also possesses the physical tools and baseball aptitude to facilitate a position switch if necessary.
The presence of Story also presents a scenario where these two premium prospects that were considered close to “untouchable” just weeks ago could now be used as headlining assets in the quest to acquire young, cost controlled, top tier pitching talent, the most rare and valuable commodity in the game today.
With Story now a member of the Red Sox, the team sticking to the plan of getting long-term deals done for Bogaerts and Devers, and a developmental trajectory that has Mayer and Yorke on pace to debut in Boston at some point in 2024, I thought it would be interesting to project the Red Sox Opening Day lineup to start the 2025 season.
This projection is based on the players on the roster now, and currently in the organization. No future free agent acquisitions or trade scenarios factor into this projection, and because of the randomness of the pitching market, I’ll keep this projection to the offense only.
Projected 2025 Boston Red Sox Opening Day Lineup:
CF: Jarren Duran
SS: Trevor Story
3B: Xander Bogaerts
DH: Rafael Devers
1B: Triston Casas
LF: Marcelo Mayer
RF: Alex Verdugo
2B: Nick Yorke
C: Christian Vazquez
When making projections that are several seasons out, there is a fair amount of assumption and speculation involved. This projection assumes that Bogaerts and Devers are signed long term. Beyond that, there is some juggling of the defensive positions to field the best nine players both offensively and on defense.
While Story has come to Boston to play second base in 2022, the thought that he’ll eventually transition to his natural position of shortstop, where he’s a plus defender, will happen at a certain point in his tenure with the club. With Bogaerts’ defense at short being currently adequate but trending subpar in recent seasons, a switch off of the position seems to be more of a “when” than an “if”. Bogaerts played third base early in his career, has the bat to fit the profile for the position, and defensive range more suited to the hot corner.
With the Universal Designated Hitter now in place, and more bats than positions to field, the market and price tag for Martinez likely takes Boston out of the market for the services of the 35-year-old, 4-time All-Star when his contact expires after the 2022 season.
The logical replacement for Martinez is Devers, who’s ranked near the top of the leaderboard for errors by third baseman since becoming a full time Major Leaguer in 2018. Devers is an elite hitter, and he’ll seek a contract that pays him as such when negotiations start between him and the team on a new deal. With the DH now in both leagues, and an escalating CBT threshold, Devers is in line to break the contract record for a primary Designated Hitter.
Of course, we’ve projected this lineup out to 2025 to account for the development of Boston’s top prospects and where they’ll fit on the roster three seasons from now. Casas is near-Major League ready now, and should see big league playing time in 2022. He should be firmly established at the position by Opening Day, 2025.
Yorke, who’s shot up the prospect rankings on the heels of an impressive pro debut season in 2021, takes over as the starting second baseman. Mayer, the top Red Sox prospect, is a solid shortstop now, but scouts and talent evaluators don’t project him to be elite defensively and he’s been mentioned as a candidate for a position changed since being drafted in 2021. This projections has Mayer in left field, with his plus bat in the everyday lineup .
It’s also notable that Duran assumes the leadoff role as the everyday center fielder. The Red Sox made the surprising move of dealing productive outfielder Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee just minutes before the offseason lockout became official. In doing so they brought back former Gold Glove center fielder Jackie Bradly Jr. and the final year of his $12 million annual salary. Bradley’s presence in the deal was so that the Red Sox could get a better prospect haul by taking on his salary, but it’s thought that Renfroe was dealt because his presence would take playing time from Duran, who the organization has high hopes for now that he’s fully recovered from a back injury that he suffered before his MLB debut in 2021 that noticeably affected his play at the big league level.
Beyond the starting nine, it’s difficult to project how the bench fills out. Current first baseman, Bobby Dalbec, is an adequate defender at third, and he’s getting reps at second base and in the outfield this spring in an effort to get his power bat in the lineup regularly with Casas knocking on the door in Boston.
It’s also likely that the backup catcher role goes to one of either Ronaldo Hernandez or Connor Wong, should the Red Sox extend Christian Vazquez after the 2022 season. If they’re unable to sign Vazquez, or choose not to, Hernandez would likely assume the starting catcher role by 2025, with Wong serving as the primary backup. This lineup projection also factors in the age, projected performance decline, and expiring contract status of Kike Hernandez, coinciding with developmental path of Mayer and Yorke.
A lot can happen between now and Opening Day 2025. The organizational depth gives the franchise the opportunity to augment the roster through trades, and with the payroll shrinking significantly after 2022, free agent acquisitions could again alter the direction of the franchise. Whichever path is taken, the future in Boston is set up for sustained success.