Welcome back to our annual positional preview series, in which we take stock of where the Red Sox stand everywhere on the depth chart for each position. At every spot on the diamond, we will look at where Boston stands on the major-league roster while also looking at their top prospects at the position. We will also take compare how the Red Sox look at the position compared to the rest of the division. Today, we cover the second base position.
The Red Sox have spent the last few seasons looking for their permanent solution at second base, having had trouble finding a consistent replacement for Dustin Pedroia. Enter: Trevor Story. It doesn’t seem likely that this is his long-term home, to be fair, but he’s going to be the man at the keystone position in this coming year. By far the biggest acquisition of the Chaim Bloom era to date, Story of course just recently signed with Boston and provides them a terrific all-around player. The impact at the plate will be very real, as Story will provide power and speed in the middle of the lineup. He should also boost an infield defense that badly needed an upgrade, and while that impact would probably be greater at shortstop than second base, we shouldn’t discount the impact he can have anywhere up the middle. Throw in above-average speed and value on the bases, and he’s a true all-around contributor.
With the Story signing, Arroyo gets pushed to the bench where he’s a better fit. He should get time at basically every position, including in the corner outfield, and it seems like he’s going to be playing a lot of the time against left-handed bats as well in some capacity, whether it be here at second or at DH, or maybe in the outfield. That said, second base is his primary position and his best spot defensively. Arroyo suddenly goes from being a fringy kind of starter, someone the Red Sox could have been fine with but not really excited about, to a very good bench player. He’ll not only give Alex Cora a guy who can fill in for just about anyone when they need a day off, but also an average-to-above-average right-handed bat off the bench for late-inning situations.
While teams were not allowed to make major-league moves during the lockout, minor-league signings were allowed to take place, and the Red Sox took advantage of that to add to their depth. One of their more high-profile signings was Yolmer Sánchez. There’s not a ton of offense here in the event the Red Sox do need to call him up to the bench, but Sánchez is a former Gold Glove winner at second base and has a ton of major-league experience as a former starter with the White Sox. His opt out situation is unclear, so it’s possible he’s no longer with the organization after camp if he decides he can find a better opportunity elsewhere. If Sánchez leaves the organization, Jonathan Araúz, Jeter Downs or Ryan Fitzgerald would be the top depth option.
Typically, we don’t really think of second basemen as top prospects in baseball, as traditionally it is a position mostly made up of “failed” shortstops. That’s not always the case, though, and Yorke is certainly an exception to that rule. Mostly, anyway. He is a former shortstop going back to his high school days, but a shoulder surgery took away some of his arm strength and he’s since moved to the other side of the second base bag. There are some that see a move to left field in his future too, for what it’s worth, but that’s not really a consensus position and I think there’s growing optimism about his ability to stay on the dirt. Either way, though, it’s the bat that makes him a top prospect. Yorke broke out in a huge way last season in his professional debut, showing off an approach beyond his years, a plus hit tool, and even some more power potential than at least I was expecting. Still only entering his age-20 season, he’ll be at High-A Greenville this year and has a real chance to finish the season at Double-A Portland.
Paulino wasn’t exactly a small bonus signing coming out of the Dominican Republic, getting a $205,000 singing bonus in the summer of 2018. The small-statured infielder made his debut the following season in the Dominican Summer League, and after a solid debut that summer he played last year on the complex in the FCL where he really broke out. In 2021, Paulino hit .336/.436/.549, somehow putting up those power numbers without hitting a home run. Instead, he was a doubles machine with 16 in 36 games. Some of that is certainly poor defense in the lowest levels of the system, but Paulino also makes a ton of contact and hits the ball hard, just on a lower trajectory than you’d see from a home run hitter. The lack of power limits the ceiling some, but he can move around the infield defensively, put the bat on the ball, and those in the organization praise his makeup as well.
Other prospect of note
- David Hamilton was one of the two prospects who came to Boston along with Jackie Bradley Jr. in the Hunter Renfroe deal. Hamilton, who should start the year at Double-A Portland, doesn’t hit for much power at all, but he makes a decent amount of contact and plays solid defense to go along with his elite speed.
There is a clear top two here for this position in the American League East, with Story having a legitimate claim to that spot of course. However, don’t discount Brandon Lowe either, who has been an outstanding hitter year in and year out for the Rays. The lefty has been the 12th best hitter in baseball by wRC+ since 2019, tied with Ketel Marte and one spot behind Ronald Acuña Jr. Story’s defense puts him a touch above for me, but it’s a virtual tie. After him, the Yankees have a combination of Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMaheiu, either of whom would be the clear number three. Cavan Biggio is still young enough to have some intrigue, though he’s coming off a brutal year. Finally in Baltimore, Rougned Odor is the clear number five in this group.
- Trevor Story, BOS
- Brandon Lowe, TB
- Gleyber Torres, NYY
- Cavan Biggio, TOR
- Rougned Odor, BAL