The start of the 2018 season on March 29th in Tampa Bay will be without #15 Dustin Pedroia.
This will be the first opening day since 2006, where Pedroia is not even on the active roster. Without his gold glove-play of the week defense and battling every single AB, where do they turn to in his absence?
Last season it wasn’t that he was injury prone, but more along the lines of bad luck prone.
Eduardo Nunez instantly became a fan favorite and quickly got a thumbs up from media pundits, being one of the best trade deadline acquisitions in recent memory. In just 38 games for the Sox, Nunez batted .308 with 8 HRs and 27 RBIs. Despite embracing Fenway Park as his home ballpark, this offseason is his last chance to get a big contract.
With the Red Sox’s other needs and him wanting to be a full time starter period, a reunion doesn’t seem likely.
Brock Holt in 2017 had his most difficult season, professionally and personally. His season was brought to a halt in April after having just 15 plate appearances. The diagnosis was vertigo. He remained on the shelf for 3 months trying to work his way back from something that has cut short other player’s careers. Even when Brock Star came back, he not the same player that Red Sox fans are used to. He was 26 for 125 in the 2nd half, hitting .208 with just 6 doubles and 6 RBIs. Even with no Pedroia, it’s no sure thing he makes the opening day roster.
Deven Marrero, previously seen in spurts of 2015 & 2016, made the best of his expanded playing time this past season. His defense helped stem the tide of the early season woes that was the Red Sox’s defense at 3rd base.
He is best utilized as a utility guy. When he connects for homeruns, they’re not cheap Alex Cora ones that barely fall in to front row of outfield seats. His home runs make you think Wily Mo Pena got a hold of one. His most memorable game was against Detroit, where he blasted two home runs.
Tzu-Wei Lin was a no name middling prospect when he was called up from Double A, not even making a stop at Pawtucket along the way. This kid is just knowledgeable.
The way he runs the bases, making defensive plays, lays the bunt down. Lin is flat out a fun player to watch. If he were a free agent, a number of teams (NL especially) would vie for his services.
In his limited platoon time with Marrero, before Nunez & Devers arrived, he batted .268 in 25 games with the Sox.
Marco Hernandez is highly regarded in the Red Sox organization. Dombrowski has even brought up that teams have asked about the availability of acquiring Hernandez in trade talks. In 61 games the past 2 seasons with the big club, he has batted .284.
Marco’s defense wasn’t well represented at the start of the season when he was asked to play 3rd base. Hernandez is best utilized at 2nd base and looks most comfortable doing so.
The Red Sox have signed 2nd baseman Esteban Quiroz to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
In the Mexican Summer League, the 25 year old had hit .293 with 11 home runs and a .428 OBP. His power has been on his side thus far. The last 3 seasons he has put up OPS of .846, astounding .971 and .916.
He might initially start the year off in Portland, or even Pawtucket. Despite any starting place, he will be an interesting option for the front office to keep an eye on.
In recent days, one player that is starting to make his way into Red Sox hot stove chatter is Ian Kinsler. Just the fact that he’s a former Tiger who was acquired by Dombrowski, makes it plausible that it might have traction.
There are roadblocks with his $11 million salary and his no trade list, but good chance he’d waive that to leave the rebuilding Tigers. For the best bang with your buck among these options, you go with Kinsler.
Though he batted just .232 this past season, Kinsler still slugged 22 home runs, which now puts him only 16 HRs away from reaching the 250 milestone.
Kinsler’s defense is also highly rated, as he won a Gold Glove in 2016, and was one of the finalists with Pedroia this past year.
Even when Pedroia comes back, you can still use Kinsler to platoon and provide a veteran boost. He is capable of filling in at either of the corners if need be.
The Red Sox do not lack for options, but it will be interesting to see how Dave Dombrowski handles this position during Pedroia’s absence.