The Red Sox leaders met with reporters and fans tonight at their Winter Weekend Convention. Manager Alex Cora and Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom have each addressed roster status with approximately two months remaining in the offseason.
The middle infield is one of the biggest questions. with Xander Bogaerts in San Diego and Trevor story With Boston set to miss at least a significant portion of the upcoming season, Boston has very little certainty in the middle. Adam Duval agreed to a one-year deal earlier this week to fill midfield, likely kicking Enrique Hernandez back to the infield.
Manager Alex Cora suggested that was the team’s plan at the moment, implying Hernández was the internal favorite to play shortstop (via MLB.com’s Ian Browne). This works out Christian Arroyo as the most likely option to man second base. Bloom indicated that the team is open to adding help from outside the organization (transmitted by Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe), but the Hernández-Arroyo pairing seems to have the inside track among the inside contenders.
Hernández has experience in every non-catching position on the diamond. He has played primarily at midfield or second base and logged just 618 shortstop innings in nine MLB seasons. Defensive Runs Saved took credit for his limited work there, rating him better than average overall with nine runs. Hernández was typically ranked as a solid or better second baseman and a particularly strong midfielder, which is where he spent most of his time in 2022.
Arroyo has been in the Boston second base mix for the past few seasons. He’s been scoring around league average in both years and making plenty of contact to make up for low running rates. Arroyo has logged nearly 900 major league innings at the Keystone. Defensive Runs Saved put him there an excellent 10 runs better than the average defender, while Statcast ranked him as just an average glove man.
There aren’t many midfield options left in free agency. Elvis Andres and Josh Harrison Are the top players still available? The Sox have been loosely linked with both in recent days. Donovan Solano, Cesar Hernandez and Jose Iglesias also belong to the remaining depth types.
There’s also quite a bit of uncertainty on the pitching side in Fenway, mostly due to injuries. Chris Sale, Tanner Houck and Garret Whitlock each ended the 2022 season on the injured list. Whitlock is returning from hip surgery while Houck underwent back surgery. Sale had myriad health concerns, culminating in surgery to repair a fracture in his right wrist sustained in a bicycle accident.
Cora said tonight that all three pitchers dropped a mound (transmitted by Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey). All three could flow into the rotation. Sale is a starting five ban if he’s healthy. The Sox have already announced they will give Whitlock a rotation opportunity. Houck’s roll seems more fluid as he could crack the starting five or stay in a high-leverage relief capacity. The earlier first-round pick has been the subject of some recent trade speculation, although there’s no indication a deal is in sight or particularly likely.