Ranking the Boston Red Sox 40-Man Roster

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Evaluating the best (and worst) players on the team

Replacing David Ortiz’s presence in the heart of the lineup and clubhouse will be a major task over the next year or so. Also, keeping starting pitcher Jon Lester in the fold will prevent the rotation from taking any steps backward.

Between the end of the World Series and Opening Day every winter, fans are inundated with lists. Rankings of the best shortstop, the best left-handed relievers, the best leadoff men in getting on base, the best second basemen in runs saved, the best right-handed pinch-hitter in road games in July and more. So, while life can be rather boring without 15 baseball games every night, over the next few weeks I’ll rank players on every 40-man roster.

This is more than merely a ranking though, it is a breakdown of contract status, future prospects and the general direction of each franchise. Enjoy.

The Red Sox have as much talent in the upper levels of the minors as any organization. In addition to continuing to produce major league ready players, the club also finds itself with some attractive trade chips. But there’s no question that this is a veteran-led team and because of that will be a serious contender for the next few seasons. Replacing David Ortiz’s presence in the heart of the lineup and clubhouse will be a major task over the next year or so. Also, keeping starting pitcher Jon Lester in the fold will prevent the rotation from taking any steps backward.

1. Dustin Pedroia
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:

2014: 12,500,000
2015: 12,500,000
2016: 13,000,000
2017: 15,000,000
2018: 16,000,000
2019: 15,000,000
2020: 13,000,000
2021: 12,000,000
Last summer, Pedroia was determined to strike a deal that would keep him in a Red Sox uniform the remainder of his career, and the club was happy to oblige. The team leader on and off the field is a dream for any manager. After turning age 34, the declining salary makes this a particularly attractive contract for Boston.

2. David Ortiz , DH    
Opening Day Age:  38
Contract:
2014
: 15,000,000
Sure, his career is winding down, but his postseason performance showed there’s still quite a few hits left in Big Papi’s tank. His value to this team transcends his work in the batter’s box.

3. Jon Lester, SP
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: 13,000,000
The World Series star should be priority No. 1 for the Red Sox front office. With more security than just the one season, Lester would move up to No. 2 ahead of Ortiz. The Red Sox can’t afford to allow him to leave next winter.

4. Clay Buchholz, SP
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 7,700,000
2015: 12,000,000
2016: 13,000,000 club option, $245,000 buyout
The 12-1 record and 1.74 ERA sure look nice, but the Sox need more than 16 starts from a guy who could be their ace. He has yet to post back-to-back full seasons, but he’ll need to remain healthy in order to earn his keep in 2015-16.

5. John Lackey , SP
Opening Day Age:  35
Contract:

2014: 15,250,000
2015: (ML minimum) club option
Boston has a unique opportunity to recoup Lackey’s 2012 season, lost to Tommy John surgery. The Red Sox have a club option that could pay Lackey just $500,000 in 2015. A healthy Lackey is clearly worth $16 million over the next two seasons.

6. Xander Bogaerts, SS
Opening Day Age:  21
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
His rapid development made Jose Iglesias expendable and allays fears of Stephen Drew not re-signing.  The rising star could be the center piece of the Sox in the near future.

7. Felix Doubront, SP
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
The lefthander is quickly moving up the list in Boston. He had a 16-start stretch in the middle of the season in which he was 5-4, but had a 2.73 ERA and held opponents to a .232 average.

8. Shane Victorino, RF
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:

2014: 13,000,000
2015: 13,000,000
Clearly, Victorino has proven that he’s a winner and makes those around him better.
6
9. Koji Uehara, CL
Opening Day Age:  38
Contract:
2014
: 4,250,000
Few closers have had a run like Uehara did last season over the last five months. He’s near the end of his career, but his low price tag gives the Red Sox some flexibility and time to find the 2015 closer.

10. Daniel Nava, OF
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
The switch-hitter carried a .385 OBP last season that jumped to .411 vs. right-handed pitching. The Sox could certainly do a lot worse than having Nava and Shane Victorino as the daily double atop the lineup. While the Nava/Jonny Gomes platoon worked well in 2013, expect Nava to get the lion’s share of at-bats in 2014.

11. Jackie Bradley, OF
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
For whatever reason, the prized prospect didn’t appear to be ready for a regular job in the big leagues last season. But he’s young, talented, and he did bat .273 in 10 September starts.

12. Brandon Workman, P
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Workman improved his stock during the postseason, and his future should be as a starter. That may mean spending a season at Pawtucket, but his future is bright.

13. Allen Webster, SP
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Acquired from the Dodgers along with Rubby de la Rosa in the mega deal of 2012 that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez west, Webster has generally been considered a Top 100 prospect. He has a future in the Boston rotation.

14. Rubby de la Rosa, P
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: 4th Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The Red Sox have as much starting pitching depth right now as any time in recent memory. With the usual injury or two, and maybe an unexpected struggle by a veteran, de la Rosa could find himself in the rotation out of spring training.

15. Junichi Tazawa, RP
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
The durable setup man had more strikeouts than hits allowed, usually a pretty good sign that he has effective stuff. He’s probably not a potential closer, but will be a huge part of Boston’s bullpen for several years.

16. Christian Vazquez, C
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Vazquez handles the bat well, but has very little pop. He throws extremely well and will be given a long look in the spring and could share the job with David Ross. But he’s played just one game above Double-A, and there’s no need to rush him in 2014.

17. Jake Peavy, SP
Opening Day Age:  32
Contract:
2014
: 14,500,000
2015: 15,000,000 player option based on 2013-14 innings pitched
Peavy is a reliable veteran, but he’s no longer a top-of-the-rotation guy. He needs 255.1 innings in 2014 to trigger his 2015 option. Uh, not likely.

18. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The Red Sox expect to see more of the 2012 version of Middlebrooks (.288-14-54 in 267 at-bats) rather than the 2013 injury-plagued version (.227-17-49 in 348 at-bats).

19. Craig Breslow, RP
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:
2014
: 3,825,000
2015: 4,000,000 club option, $100,000 buyout
He’s a reliable reliever, but not particularly cost-effective.

20. David Ross, C
Opening Day Age:  37
Contract:
2014
: 3,100,000
Considered one of the best teammates in the game, Ross commands respect from pitchers. He can hit a little bit, but really isn’t an everyday catcher.

21. Jonny Gomes, OF
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:
2014
: 5,000,000
Contrary to popular perception, Gomes hit 22 points higher vs. right-handed pitching last season. Much of his value comes from intangibles. He had four pinch-hit homers last season.

22. Anthony Ranaudo, SP  
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The righthander has battled shoulder fatigue, a groin injury and elbow trouble dating to his days at LSU. But healthy in 2013, he made 24 starts across Double-A and Triple-A with a sub-3.00 ERA.

23. Mike Carp, 1B
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
Carp has value in Boston. He slugged better than .500 in spot duty last season and batted .337 vs. the AL East, and just .266 against every other team.

24. Ryan Dempster, SP
Opening Day Age:  36
Contract:
2014
: 13,250,000
To say that 2013 was a disappointment for Dempster would be an understatement. His greatest value may come from the club convincing another team that he can thrive outside of Fenway Park.

25. Franklin Morales, RP
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
The lefty was once considered a top prospect in Colorado as a starter. Since finding his way to Boston, he’s proven to be more suited as a lefty specialist out of the pen.

26. Garin Cecchini, 3B  
Opening Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Cecchini stole 51 bases for Single-A Greenville in 2012, and drew 94 in 129 games across two levels in 2013. He hits for average with gap power, but is probably a year away from competing for an everyday job.

27. Bryce Brentz, OF
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Brentz is a budding power hitter and corner outfielder. He hit 30 bombs across two leagues his first full season in the minors and followed that with 30 doubles at Double-A in 2012.

28. Brock Holt, IF
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The infielder was part of the Joel Hanrahan trade with the Pirates last winter. He’s shown he can hit for average in the minors. Primarily a shortstop in the Bucs’ system, he’d love to have a shot at the third base job.

29. Andrew Bailey, RP
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
The former Oakland closer made $3.9 million and $4.1 million the past two seasons, which makes him a likely candidate to be non-tendered in December.

30. Ryan Lavarnway, C
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The Red Sox have been patiently waiting for the catcher to blossom. Bobby Valentine gave him ample opportunities down the stretch in 2012, but he scuffled mightily. He hit .375 over his final eight starts in 2013, but the organization’s lack of faith in him has the Red Sox seriously investigating the catcher free agent market.

31. Andrew Miller, P
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
A foot injury ended his season in early July, but the tall lefthander should be ready to complete for a spot in the bullpen during spring training.

32. Brayan Villareal, P
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
He was acquired from the Tigers in the same deal this past summer that brought Jake Peavy from the White Sox. Villareal broke camp as part of the Tigers’ bullpen, but a 20.77 ERA after seven appearances had him back on the Toledo bus.

33. Alex Wilson, P
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: 4th Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The second-round pick in 2009 has struggled as a starter in the minors and is trying to find his way as a reliever.

34. Dan Butler, C
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He’s played 363 games behind the plate in the minor leagues and no other position. The 27-year-old’s lot in life is, at best, to be a temporary injury replacement midseason.

35. Alex Castellanos, OF
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Recently acquired from the Dodgers, Castellanos is on the verge of no longer being considered a prospect.

36. Drake Britton, P
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Over the past three seasons, the sparkle has worn off of what was at one time a pretty bright star.

37. Alex Hassan, OF
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He’s been on the 40-man roster all season, but yet to get the call to the big leagues. He hit .306 in the low minors and just .285 in Double-A and Triple-A.

38. Steven Wright, P
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He logged 12.1 innings over three relief appearances, and just one inning in his lone start.

39. Ryan Kalish, OF
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
The former promising prospect underwent cervical fusion surgery in August. He’s still young, but his body may not allow him to return to major league levels.

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