Hard as it might be to believe, pitchers and catchers will report to Fort Myers next week, with physicals and workouts soon to follow. Meanwhile, Opening Day is a little more than six weeks away.
A lot can happen between now and then, obviously, as the three-team deal with the Mets and Royals Wednesday night demonstrated. The Red Sox could make still make some low-level signings or minor deals. And who knows how injuries between now and the end of March will impact things.
Let's look ahead and put together a 26-man roster for the start of the regular season.
Some disclaimers: although the Red Sox haven't officially confirmed the signing of Japanese reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, but virtually every media outlet in his native country has it as a done deal. So, we're giving him a spot. (For that matter, the Red Sox haven't officially confirmed Martin Perez's return, either, and that was three weeks ago).
Given the challenges for a pitching staff and with no limits from MLB on the number of pitchers that can be carried, it's possible the Sox might start with 14 pitchers (five starters and nine relievers). But for now, we've assigned them 13 pitching spots on the roster.
STARTING PITCHERS (5)
The skinny: Chris Sale won't be close to ready when the team breaks camp. Pencil him in for early June...maybe. ... I'm not entirely convinced Rodriguez will be set to go April 1, either. The Red Sox surely will be careful with him in Grapefruit League action. This is someone who hasn't faced hitters since last March, having missed all of the 2020 season with a combination of COVID-19 and myocarditis. But let's assume a best-case scenario that has Rodriguez ready to go. ... The only other tricky part here is Houck, who has all of three major league starts under his belt. But Houck was highly impressive in those and that makes him the slight favorite to nail down the No. 5 spot to start the season.