Boston Red Sox: 5 Players the Team Will See Before All Is Said and Done
When you spend buckets of cash in the offseason like the Boston Red Sox did this winter, you tend to enter spring training with something of an idea of what the roster will look like come April.
With most of the positions filled, much of the debate focuses on the makeup of the lineup card rather than the composition of the roster itself.
Such a situation often leads to a spring in which dozens of players end up in a heated battle for the final few roster spots.
But, inevitably, the faces that leave Fort Myers as part of the major league roster will change. And often quickly.
Consider, for instance, last summer. Who among us thought Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava and Felix Doubront would play major roles in the Sox pursuit of a playoff spot?
So as spring training progresses this March, all eyes remain on newcomers Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez and recovering regulars Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia.
It would be wise not to overlook a handful of other players, though, who likely won't be suiting up in early April but could play something of an important role by the time the dog days of summer arrive.
Here's a look at five players unlikely to break camp with the Red Sox whom you could be seeing before autumn rolls around.
5. Felix Doubront
Doubront made an impression during limited action last season, proving to be a versatile left-hander with the ability to start or come out of the bullpen.
Though his long-term value is likely as a starter, he was slated by many to be a key member of the bullpen this summer.
He was recently shut down for about two weeks to rest a troublesome elbow, which could prevent him from making the Opening Day roster—especially with so many arms fighting for relief spots—but don't be surprised to see him with the big club sooner rather than later.
Terry Francona was reportedly very enamored with Doubront, who made a lasting impression during his limited opportunities. And his southpaw delivery makes him even more valuable.
The injury probably put an end to the preseason debate about whether Doubront makes the squad, but even if he begins the campaign at Pawtucket, he'll be back before all is said and done.
And he could be a valuable piece out of the pen.
4. Josh Reddick
Ryan Kalish is the proverbial “outfielder of the future,” and he vaulted over Reddick on the prospect depth chart with a strong performance last year.
Ironically, that may be the very thing that keeps Kalish from getting called up first this time.
The Sox appear set on getting Kalish—who tailed off dramatically toward the end of last season—more seasoning at the AAA level, where he can get regular at-bats and playing time.
So if a roster spot opens up in the outfield, Reddick may be more likely to get the nod so as not to disrupt Kalish's progress.
And he probably has one final chance to make an impression. He debuted to rave reviews two years ago before taking significant steps back last summer.
The team will likely face a decision at some point on who is the true outfielder of the future, and if Kalish continues to carry that torch, Reddick may be little more than trade bait.
And some major league time is the perfect way to drive up his trade value.
So expect Reddick to get a chance at the big league level some time this summer, be it to prove his worth to the Sox or to another interested team.
Either way, though, it wouldn't be a major surprise if he got the first call-up in the outfield.
3. Alfredo Aceves
Aceves was the last signing of the offseason, and for that reason he flew largely under the radar.
But he was a big player during the Yankees playoff run two seasons ago, and, like Doubront, brings the kind of starter/reliever versatility the Red Sox love.
He will probably not break camp with the team, because if he starts the season in Boston and has to be sent down, he'll be made available through waivers.
But the Sox see him as a valuable component in the pitching mix, and love his makeup and ability to start or come out of the pen.
He, like Doubront, will be among the first hurlers hailing a cab from Pawtucket to Boston if injuries catch up with the staff.
2. Jose Iglesias
Among the No. 1 debates of spring training has been who should start at shortstop, with contenders Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie battling it out.
Scutaro is expected to get the nod in April, though Lowrie will likely make a push before all is said and done.
Meanwhile, the shortstop of the future is waiting at Pawtucket in Iglesias. The slick-fielding wiz kid has been hailed as major league ready on the defensive side for the last two seasons.
All he needed was more offensive polish, something he'll likely get after a spring with the big club and a start at Pawtucket.
But don't be surprised if the Sox get the itch to see Iglesias at the big-league level, if for no other reason than to see how he would stack up versus Lowrie.
One of them is likely to start at shortstop next season, and the battle will be settled largely on the field.
Iglesias is intriguing in that Sox fans have been hearing about him for years, with little visual evidence to draw on.
An appearance with the big club would certainly be much anticipated, and help a solid career blossom.
Perhaps the Red Sox finally have the answer to the shortstop question we've all been asking since Nomar was sent packing.
Nobody knows for sure. So expect the Sox to at least explore the answers.
1. Andrew Miller
This could be a classic Theo acquisition.
While everyone was drooling over Gonzalez and Crawford, he quietly swapped the anonymous Dustin Richardson for Miller, a one-time No. 1 draft pick whose ceiling was once considered sky high.
But failed tenures in Detroit and Miami quieted the focus on Miller, who has battled injuries and inconsistency on his way to the “bust” label.
At 25, though, the Sox think it's too early to label Miller for good. Perhaps under the tutelage of the Sox staff he could finally harness much of the remarkable ability that made him such a feared, flame-throwing lefty.
His long-term spot is likely in the rotation, but he may make his mark as a spot-starter and reliever this year, where he will have perhaps one final chance to prove he belongs on the Big League stage.
The upside here is remarkable.
If Miller can put things together, he could be a diamond in the rough who later helps form one of the best young staffs in baseball with Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.
If that is to be the case, the first steps will be taken this year. He will no doubt start the season at Pawtucket, but expect to see Miller with the big club sometime this summer.
And if things go the way Theo hopes they do, you won't be seeing him anywhere else again for a long time.