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Final decisions to be made for the Red Sox Opening Day roster

They have one more day to figure things out.

Boston Red Sox End of Season Press Conference Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Originally my plan for this morning was to make a projection for the Opening Day roster, which is due of course prior to their first game, which now is set for Friday. The Red Sox have kind of made that something of a moot point, though, having already all but finalized what the original group of 28 will look like. (As a reminder, as a measure to protect against injury after a shortened spring the league has expanded rosters to 28 players at the start of the year, with no limitations on the number of pitchers a team can carry.) The position players we all but know will be on the roster are:

  • Christian Vázquez
  • Bobby Dalbec
  • Trevor Story
  • Rafael Devers
  • Xander Bogaerts
  • Alex Verdugo
  • Enrique Hernández
  • Jackie Bradley Jr.
  • J.D. Martinez
  • Christian Arroyo
  • Kevin Plawecki
  • Travis Shaw

The only not-definite in that group is Shaw, who is on a minor-league contract at the moment (more on that later), but all signs are pointing towards him starting the season as left-handed Dalbec insurance who can also come in late in games when the situation calls for it.

Likewise, the pitchers who will almost certainly be there to start the season will be:

  • Nathan Eovaldi
  • Nick Pivetta
  • Tanner Houck
  • Michael Wacha
  • Rich Hill
  • Garrett Whitlock
  • Matt Barnes
  • Jake Diekman
  • Ryan Brasier
  • Hirokazu Sawamura
  • Matt Strahm
  • Tyler Danish
  • Kutter Crawford
  • Austin Davis

I’ll save you the counting and let you know that’s 26 roster spots accounted for, and all my math heads out there are yelling at their screens that it means there are two spots left to be filled. Good job, math heads. Really, there are three players fighting for the two spots: Hansel Robles, Phillips Valdez, and Jonathan Araúz.

The situation is a little bit counterintuitive, as I’d expect Robles to be the odd man out while also expecting him to play the biggest role in this trio throughout the entire season. The veteran righty signed a minor-league deal, but that was because his spring was going to be delayed due to visa issues and it wasn’t clear he’d be ready for the start of the season. It’s still not clear. Robles threw in each of the last two games of spring training and looked pretty good, and he’ll apparently be traveling to New York with the team. I still think they’ll play it cautiously, but it’s possible he’ll be up for Thursday.

If not, that leaves Araúz and Valdez. The former seems like a weird fit at first glance because the bench would appear to be clearly lacking an outfielder, and Araúz plays on the dirt. That he is the last position player left standing is both an indictment on the team’s outfield depth and an indication of their confidence in Christian Arroyo and/or J.D. Martinez filling in out there. As for the latter, Valdez can throw multiple innings in mop up duties and has options.

The other part of the equation revolves around the 40-man roster, which is currently full. As mentioned above, Shaw is on a minor-league contract and thus will need to be added to the 40-man. That spot shouldn’t be too difficult to open up, as Ralph Garza, who was claimed off waivers late last month, would seem to be the top DFA candidate. The trickier part comes when Robles is ready to be added to the roster as well, whether it be Thursday or a little bit later. My guess is that one of Danish or Valdez would be on the chopping block at that point. And there also is still the chance of a trade, both in trading away 40-man players and adding more, or both, and also with waiver claims.

Still, it seems like we more or less know what the Red Sox roster is going to look like on Friday in New York. It’ll change as the season goes along, of course, but the group above is what they’ll be taking into the start of 2022.