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Dustin Pedroia will be back at second base.
Starting 1B: Mitch Moreland (LHB)
Mitch Moreland may be a left-handed hitter with power, but the Red Sox didn’t sign him to replace David Ortiz at designated hitter. Having just won a Gold Glove in 2016, the 31-year-old is the obvious choice to be the Red Sox’s everyday first baseman.
Starting 2B: Dustin Pedroia (RHB)
No surprise here. Dustin Pedroia has been Boston’s everyday second baseman since 2007 and is still going strong. The 33-year-old hit .318 with an .825 OPS in 2016, all while rating as an excellent defender. With Ortiz gone, he’s now the team’s de facto captain.
Starting SS: Xander Bogaerts (RHB)
No surprise here, either. Xander Bogaerts, 24, isn’t going to wow anyone with his defense, but he’s a .307 hitter with a .789 OPS over the last two seasons. After hitting for average in 2015 and more for power in 2016, 2017 could be the year he takes an already strong offensive game to the next level.
Starting 3B: Pablo Sandoval (SH)
After he struggled in 2015 and went down with a season-ending injury in 2016, trusting Pablo Sandoval to be an everyday third baseman doesn’t seem like the best idea. But the Red Sox are going for it, and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has high expectations for the 30-year-old.
“I think he can come back and be a good, dependable, everyday third baseman for us, from an offensive and a defensive perspective,” Dombrowski told ESPN.com’s Buster Olney in a recent podcast, via NESN’s Darren Hartwell. “I think if he can go out there and hit .270 to .275 and hit 12 to 15 home runs and knock in 70 to 75 runs at third base for us, I don’t think that’s asking too much of him.”
Well, if he says so…
Starting DH: Hanley Ramirez (RHB)
Hanley Ramirez wasn’t the defensive disaster at first base in 2016 that he was in left field in 2015. But it’s no secret by now that he’s a bat-only player, so him sliding into Ortiz’s vacated shoes is a natural fit. The 33-year-old’s offense has been coming and going since 2011, but he’s riding some good vibes into 2017. Ramirez had an .866 OPS with 30 homers in 2016, in part thanks to a torrid second half.
Backup INF: Brock Holt (LHB)
I’m labeling Brock Holt as an “infielder,” but he’s more like an “everything.” The lefty swinger has played every position except catcher and pitcher. And he isn’t too shabby a hitter, either, posting a .705 career OPS. Even after an injury-shortened 2016, he’s the surest thing on Boston’s bench.
Backup INF: Josh Rutledge (RHB)
This spot on Boston’s bench is more up in the air. But for now, Josh Rutledge has a loose hold on it. Although he doesn’t have Holt’s versatility, he swings from the opposite side of the plate and can play short, second or third in a pinch.
Next in Line
Marco Hernandez (LHB)
Marco Hernandez was solid in hitting .294 in 40 games with the Red Sox in 2016. But as a generally light-hitting lefty swinger, he’s basically another Holt minus the defensive versatility. It’ll likely take an injury for him to land on the 25-man roster.
Deven Marrero (RHB)
As a righty swinger with some positional versatility, Deven Marrero has a shot at beating out Rutledge for a spot on Boston’s bench. However, he’ll need to show that he can improve on major league experience that includes a .503 OPS in 38 games.