Red Sox notes: Middle infield, Hernandez, Arroyo, Sale, Whitlock, Houck

Red Sox notes: Middle infield, Hernandez, Arroyo, Sale, Whitlock, Houck

The top brass of the Red Sox met with reporters and fans at their winter weekend convention tonight. Manager Alex Cora and director of baseball Chaim Bloom each addressed roster status with about two months remaining in the offseason.

The middle infield is one of the biggest questions. With Xander Bogarts in san diego and Trevor’s Story Prepared to miss at least a notable portion of next season, Boston has very little certainty in between. Adam Duvall agreed to a one-year contract earlier this week to fill center field, likely kicking enrique hernandez back to the inner field.

Manager Alex Cora suggested that was the team’s current plan, implying that Hernández was the inside favorite to play shortstop (via Ian Browne of that leaves Christian Arroyo as the most likely option to serve at second base. Bloom indicated that the team remained open to adding help from outside the organization (aired by Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe) but the Hernández-Arroyo pairing apparently has the inside track among the internal candidates.

Hernandez has experience at all non-receiving positions on the diamond. He has played mostly center field or second base, logging just 618 innings at shortstop in parts of nine MLB seasons. Defensive Runs Saved has favorably viewed his limited work there, rating it nine runs better than overall average. Hernandez has generally been rated as a solid second baseman or better and a particularly strong center fielder, where he spent most of his time in 2022.

Arroyo has been in Boston’s second base mix for the past two seasons. He has hit at league-average level more or less both years, making a lot of contact to make up for low walk rates. Arroyo has logged just under 900 major league innings at capstone. Defensive Runs Saved have rated it an excellent 10 runs better than the average defender out there, while Statcast has rated it an exactly average glove.

There aren’t many midfield options left in free agency. elvis andros Y joseph harrison they are probably the best players still available. The Red Sox have been loosely linked to both in recent days. Donovan Solano, cesar hernandez Y joseph churches they are also among the remaining depth types.

There’s also quite a bit of uncertainty on the pitching side at Fenway, largely due to injuries. chris sale, houck tanner Y garrett whitlock each finished the 2022 season on the disabled list. Whitlock returns from hip surgery, while Houck underwent a back procedure. Sale had countless health problems that culminated in surgery to repair a broken right wrist sustained in a bicycle accident.

Cora said tonight that all three pitchers have been pitching from a mound (broadcast by Jen McCaffrey of Athletic). All three could influence the rotation. Sale is insurance for the starting five if he is healthy. The Sox have already announced that they plan to give Whitlock a rotation opportunity. Houck’s role seems more fluid, as he could work his way through the starting five or remain in a high-leverage relief capacity. The former first-round pick has been the subject of some recent trade speculation, though there’s no indication a deal is on the horizon or especially likely to happen.

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