Dissecting the 2021 Red Sox outfield

With Opening Day almost upon us, many questions still remain unanswered for the 2021 Boston Red Sox.

Many of these question marks will be erased when the Sox finally take the field, with one of the biggest being what Boston’s outfield will look like. After several departures and changes in the past, the Red Sox will be putting together a new look outfield with a solid amount of options to fill these spots.

Here is the 2021 Red Sox outfield overview:

Alex Verdugo

Verdugo, known for coming over in the Mookie Betts trade, made his Sox debut in 2020’s shortened season. In a season of downs, Alex was one of the few bright spots last year. Verdugo hit .308 with a .844 OPS while also providing a spark in the field and lineup. “Dugie” is known for his high energy, as he commented multiple times on being eager to have fans back in Fenway. Turning 25 in May, Verdugo has a lot of upside and has a chance to show it in his first full season in Boston.

Hunter Renfroe

Being one of the bigger signings of the offseason, Hunter Renfroe could burst onto the Boston scene. Renfroe made a name for himself in San Diego before heading to Tampa Bay in 2020. Hunter has shown off the power in his arsenal, hitting 33 home runs in 2019 for the Padres. Besides the homers, Renfroe’s numbers don’t really jump off the page. Consistency will be key for him to keep his spot in the order to make up for his subpar defense.

J.D. Martinez

An asterisk should go on JD’s name when put on a list of outfielders. Known for his role as a DH, Martinez has barely seen the field during his time in Boston. Now in 2021, Boston’s melting pot of a roster could lead to Martinez seeing more time playing defense. It’s not the ideal move, but it is a big possibility in this upcoming season.

Marwin Gonzalez

Signed for depth and his versatility, Gonzalez could be a much needed handyman for the defensive holes in the Sox’s outfield. A solid hitter that has already smashed some Home Runs in Spring Training can also play almost anywhere in the field. After a spotty tenure in Minnesota, Gonzalez looks to bounce back in his new home. (Kike Hernández could also see time in the outfield, being another versatility guy)

Franchy Cordero

For only being known as the return for Andrew Benintendi, Cordero brings up the most question marks in the outfield. For being injured through most of his career, Franchy could finally show off his full potential for the Sox. Although due to a crowded roster and injury issues in Spring Training, Cordero’s time to shine for Boston might not come in 2021.

Opening Day Prediction: Gonzalez, Verdugo, Renfroe

With plenty of cards in their hand, I think Alex Cora will put out a conservative combination in the outfield for Opening Day. Verdugo and Renfroe will most likely be everyday starters throughout the year with Gonzalez’s consistent defense earning him more time in the lineup.

With the big three of Betts, Benintendi, and Bradley Jr. now all gone, the 2021 season will mark the dawn of a new era for Boston’s outfield.

Bradley Jr. Departure Marks End of an Era

Red Sox fans woke up on Thursday morning to yet another player leaving, as Jackie Bradley Jr. packed his bags for Wisconsin.

Bradley signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers this week. Jackie’s return to Boston seemed less and less likely as the offseason went on, with teams like Houston and the Mets also showing interest in the 30 year old center fielder.

bradley red sox players

JBJ’s new colors draw an era of Red Sox history to a close. Not just because the Sox lost their #1 CF over the last decade, but he was also the last one remaining from the 2018 Champion, “Win Dance Repeat” outfield.

Superman in the Outfield

After being called up in 2013, Bradley Jr. became notorious for his highlight reel catches and his cannon of an arm in center. Fans could always expect a JBJ catch or throw to home to fill their Twitter feeds. Jackie made the 2016 AL All-Star team, hitting .267 and 26 HRs while also having a 29 game hitting streak early in the season. JBJ won his first Gold Glove in 2018 after being snubbed in previous years, one of the many pieces of hardware he claimed that season.

Mr. ALCS

Not well known for his presence at the plate, no one could have expected JBJ’s strong performance in the 2018 American League Championship Series. It all started in Game 2, when Jackie slapped a three-run double against the monster to give the Sox the lead. This was a huge moment in the series, as it prevented Boston from going down 2-0 before heading to Houston. Down in H-Town, Bradley left his mark again with a grand slam in Game 3 and a two-run homer in Game 4 which would give the Sox the lead. JBJ went only 3 for 15 in the series but without those 3 hits, the Sox might have not prevailed against the Astros. Jackie took home ALCS MVP as Boston would go on to win the World Series.

Closing the Farm

Bradley Jr. was a homegrown player for Boston. He was drafted in the 2011 MLB Draft, the same draft the Red Sox drafted Mookie Betts. These two ended up creating one of the best outfields in baseball along with Andrew Benintendi, another Red Sox selection from the 2015 Draft. This trio became known for their post win dances in 2016, known as “Win Dance Repeat.” All three of these guys were also core pieces to the 2018 World Series run, as each had iconic moments along the way. With the exit of Betts via trade to LA, the dominos started to fall. With a new GM in Chaim Bloom, it was clear that a new look was coming to Boston. Benintendi was dealt to Kansas City in February, as JBJ’s signing is coming just a month after. Losing two fan favorites in just two months, it is clear that a memorable era in Sox history has now come to a close.

Jackie Bradley Jr. will always be remembered by this generation of fans for not just his defensive talent and hustle on the field, but also his big smile and great personality off it. Excited to see the Brew Crew come to Boston someday for Jackie to get his much deserved ovation.

Thanks for everything, JBJ. Go kill it in the navy and gold.

Brock Holt Left a Lasting Impact in Boston

Over a week ago, fan-favorite Brock Holt traded in his red socks for the navy blue attire of the Milwaukee Brewers. Holt signed a 1-year deal worth $3.25 million to join the brew crew, as Sox management never really made an attempt to bring Holt back to the team. Nevertheless, Brock Holt left a lasting impact on Boston. One that will not be filled for a long time.

Fans all over New England were irate over the deal, as one of the most beloved players on the Sox was

brock holt left

now out of town for a contract that Boston could have easily offered. Regardless of what colors he wears this season, Brock Holt’s impact on the Red Sox and the city of Boston will never be forgotten by Sox fans. Brock Holt left his mark.

“The Utility Guy”

When Holt first came to Boston, no one really batted an eye at the guy. Of course, the Red Sox were in the middle of a championship season, and Brock seemed like just another ordinary guy. A player that would probably flip flop from the MLB and the minors and never find a real gig full time in the league. But after 2013, Holt’s game emerged onto the scene. Boston might have been playing poor baseball in those years, but it gave Holt a chance to shine. He stayed with the big league club for the whole season and even made the All-Star Game in 2015. What was appealing about Brock’s game is his versatility. He could play anywhere on the diamond and swung a pretty solid bat to go along with it. Suddenly, this utility guy from Pittsburgh looked to be a key piece of the rebuilding Red Sox.

Brock Holt Left an Impact Off the Field Too

As Holt’s impact started to become evident on the field, his impact off the field was just as strong. Brock was one of the regulars when it came to helping the community. Whether it was visiting kids in the hospital or helping out with charities like the Jimmy Fund, Holt quickly became immersed in the Boston community. Brock was also a clubhouse favorite, as it seemed there wasn’t even one player that he didn’t get along with. From being a new face in 2013 to a 2018 World Champion, he hadn’t let his success get to his head.

Iconic Moments

As Holt’s success began during the Sox down years, he finally got a chance to shine on the bigger stage with the Sox championship run in 2018. While the Sox lineup was stacked with talent, Brock still got a lot of at-bats and he made them count. Plenty of moments come to mind, but everyone knows which one is #1. Holt’s cycle against the Yankees in the ALDS made history as he completed the first cycle in playoff history. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the Sox as that dominant Game 3 win propelled them to a series victory. His cycle, along with his clutch hits in the World Series, will be Red Sox moments that fans today won’t forget.

The situation of why Boston didn’t make an effort to bring Brock back will remain questioned. However, it will not take away from Holt’s time in a Sox uniform.

Thank you Brock, and good luck in Milwaukee.

Sox add veteran experience with Lucroy signing

On Wednesday, Boston added some veteran experience behind the plate by signing catcher Jonathan Lucroy to a minor league deal for the 2020 season. Lucroy, a former all-star who has been on the decline, found himself without a squad as spring training began. Jonathan started 2019 with the LA Angels, before eventually being released after 75 games into the season and was quickly picked up by the Chicago Cubs for a brief stint to end the year. Sox manager Ron Roenicke is familiar with Lucroy’s play, as he coached him in Milwaukee for the first half of his career.

Although Lucroy was a solid name on the market, many were confused about why thelucroy signing club was adding another catcher to the organization. But with still plenty of time left remaining in spring training, this move might have a positive outcome for the Red Sox.

Added Experience

After 10 years in MLB, Lucroy has a lot of reps under his belt. His knowledge from his time in the league won’t just be helpful to catchers Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki, who have a combined 10 years of experience, but also the younger players on the Sox. With more holes in the 2020 roster than years past, Boston will have a lot of new faces in the lineup and a veteran presence could help these new or younger players in the clubhouse.

Consistency behind the plate

Besides his decrease in numbers at the plate, Lucroy has always been one of the better catchers defensively. He has already been seen down in Fort Myers catching a session for Chris Sale. Sale previously preferred Sandy Leon behind the dish over the rest of the Sox catchers. With Sandy Leon now out of town, maybe Lucroy can step in for the role as pitcher’s best friend.

Reviving the bat?

Christian Vazquez, who broke out in 2019 with a .279 BA and a career-high 23 HRs, has the starting position locked up. Due to this, there is no huge risk in the Lucroy signing as they aren’t looking for him to be the #1 guy. While Lucroy might be no competition to Vazquez, he has a huge opportunity to get a roster spot over Kevin Plawecki. Jonathan’s problem isn’t his defense but his struggling offense, as he has gone from hitting .280-.300 a year to .220-.240. He has shown his offensive potential in the past, as he could use his time on the Sox to get back to his former self.

After an offseason of losing key pieces, the Red Sox will look to mold the future of this organization and it may take some veterans to help the process. It should be interesting to see if Lucroy will make the opening day roster.