There have been developments on this front since I last wrote about the pitchers: David Murphy signed with the Red Sox on a minor league deal and added to the potential depth for the team. Of course, I'm forever in search of the next Cesar Crespo, but alas, it's the equivalent to searching for a needle in a haystack.
I won't waste time repeating the same spiel from last time. Here are the guys the Red Sox brought in who you'll see swinging the bat late in games.
Straight up, Brennan Boesch just isn't a very good baseball player. He's a 30-year-old journeyman who has posted precisely one season with more than one WAR in six years in the majors. Boesch was taken in the third round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft by the Detroit Tigers. He showed some promise in his early seasons, hitting .283/.341/.458 with 16 home runs, 54 RBI and 2.3 WAR in 2011. But that's the last time he posted a positive WAR. Last year in 51 games with the Reds, Boesch actually cost his team 1.3 wins compared to what a replacement player would've provided by Baseball-Reference's calculations. That's 2015 Hanley Ramirez levels of bad. So yeah, he's not very good, but hey, outfield depth.
The Red Sox traded Butler to the Washington Nationals in exchange for Danny Rosenbaum prior to the 2015 season and, after a year in their farm system, Butler elected for free agency and returned to Boston on a minor league contract. Matt Collins covered Butler in depth in this space a couple of years ago, but suffice it to say that the 29-year-old is really solid catching depth, at least defensively. Even if the Sox hopefully won't need any beyond Christian Vazquez.
It's been sad to watch Craig fall off so precipitously over the last few seasons. After being one of the anchors for the Cardinals lineup during their 2013 World Series run, Craig has become an albatross contract on a deal that many once touted as one of the most team-friendly in all of baseball. Craig is currently off the 40-man roster and will need to prove himself, likely in Pawtucket, before he even gets a chance again. As I covered previously in this space, there simply isn't much the Red Sox can do at this point with Craig.
Dominguez was a third-round pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2009 Major League Baseball Draft, but has played a negligible number of games at the major league level, making his debut in 2014. He's played a total of 22 games in the majors, hitting .175/.195/.400 in 40 at bats. As a third baseman, there doesn't figure to be much of an opportunity for Dominguez behind the likes of Brock Holt, Travis Shaw, Deven Marrero and the like, but he's got a career .264/.305/.430 batting line in the minors and has some pop.
LaMarre made his major league debut last season with the Cincinnati Reds and played 21 games hitting .080/.080/.160 with two hits in 25 at bats. He's a former second-round pick, but LaMarre hasn't shown much of anything to prove that he's more than a guy to fill out the Triple-A roster, only posting a .712 OPS over the course of his minor league career.
At this point, we're all know what Sandy Leon is. He's a pretty damn good defender with a solid arm and at the plate he's like John Travolta on that FX OJ Simpson show: an absolute train wreck in every sense of the word. Leon might be one of the worst hitters I've ever watched who received consistent playing time. Leon flat out can't hit. Just can't do it! But he's there in case Ryan Hanigan breaks a knuckle again and something else goes horribly awry. Vazquez is back. Swihart is starting. Hanigan is back. If Leon is seeing time in the majors, something went very wrong for the Red Sox behind the dish.
I was kind of surprised to see Murphy reduced to signing a minor league deal for an opportunity. While his 0.0 WAR in 132 games suggested that he was literally a replacement player last season, but Murphy had a pretty decent year at the plate, hitting .283/.318/.421 in 132 games and 361 at bats, and if 2015 taught Red Sox fans anything, it's that replacement level players can be a blessing given certain alternatives. Murphy will get an opportunity to fill in as a depth option at a position where the team has very little major league-ready organizational depth. There's a half decent chance one of Jackie Bradley or Rusney Castillo isn't going to live up to expectations. Murphy and Chris Young could make an interesting platoon team in that event.
Josh Rutledge’s batting stance looks like the default batting stance in MVP Baseball ’05 when you create a player. pic.twitter.com/e6T8hwaGkC— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) August 9, 2015
Rutledge is just about as memorable a player as his batting stance. He plays a lot of positions and actually played halfway decently in his limited opportunity with the Red Sox, hitting .284/.333/.338 in 39 games. If injuries go down in the infield and Brock Holt needs to step in, Rutledge could slide into that utility role.
Solis is very similar to Leon in many regards: he's got a really quick release when it comes down to gunning down potential base stealers and he can call a decent game, but he is a terrible hitter. Solis has played in a total of 13 games, has had 11 at bats, and has still not had his first major league hit while being shuffled between Double-A and Triple-A in the Dodgers system. Solis, again, is just an emergency scenario catching depth option.
The most interesting non-roster invitee for my money. Travis was a 2014 second round pick by the Red Sox and as a college hitter coming out of Indiana, he's got a shot to move through the system really quickly and potentially get a taste of the big leagues this year. He's got some pop in his bat and in 65 games with Portland last year, Travis hit .300/.384/.436. Marc Normandin wrote about the importance and potential ramifications of Travis as a prospect, but we might well see this guy in the majors sooner rather than later. Hell, given that Hanley Ramirez might slide into the DH role after David Ortiz retires, we could even see Travis manning first base on Opening Day in 2017.
For this year, though, Travis will be emergency-only in the early going, and will need to get off to a good start to put himself in place for a call-up should the roster demand it since he provides relatively little in terms of defensive flexibility. Otherwise, he's very much like most of the rest of this bunch. While the pitching crop wasn't full of hidden stars, for the hitters it comes down to a little positional depth in the likes of Leon and Rutledge, a prospect in need of more time in Travis, and then David Murphy as the other standout. This is a crop with relatively little upside, so let's hope we don't see very much of them.