Diving into the depths: Boston Red Sox

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Boston Red Sox
Rotation
1. Jon Lester
2. Josh Beckett
3. John Lackey
4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
5. Clay Buchholz
6. Tim Wakefield
7. Michael Bowden
8. Junichi Tazawa
9. Boof Bonser
10. Gaby Hernandez
11. Fabio Castro
12. Kris Johnson
Wakefield won’t be happy if pushed to a bullpen role to start the season, but it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox creating room for him if everyone else is healthy. Injuries will likely creep up and sort these things out. Odds are that the team will also have need for Bowden in the rotation at some point.
Bullpen
1. Jonathan Papelbon
2. Hideki Okajima
3. Daniel Bard
4. Ramon Ramirez
5. Manny Delcarmen
6. Boof Bonser
7. Tim Wakefield
8. Joe Nelson
9. Brian Shouse
10. Scott Atchison
11. Dustin Richardson
12. Ramon A. Ramirez
13. Junichi Tazawa
14. Fernando Cabrera
15. Fabio Castro
16. Michael Bowden
17. Jorge Sosa
18. Edwin Moreno
The bullpen depth is flat-out ridiculous. Nelson, Atchison and the other Ramon Ramirez are average middle relievers, Shouse and Richardson are legitimate lefty specialists and both Cabrera and Castro have some upside if they can find opportunities. Unfortunately, no one from the group figures to make the team unless someone starts off on the disabled list.


Catcher
1. Victor Martinez
2. Jason Varitek
3. Dusty Brown
4. Mark Wagner
First base
1. Kevin Youkilis
2. Mike Lowell
3. Victor Martinez
4. Aaron Bates
Second base
1. Dustin Pedroia
2. Bill Hall
3. Jed Lowrie
4. Tug Hulett
Third base
1. Adrian Beltre
2. Mike Lowell
3. Bill Hall
4. Kevin Youkilis
Shortstop
1. Marco Scutaro
2. Jed Lowrie
3. Bill Hall
4. Tug Hulett
5. Gil Velazquez
Lowell is still around, but the Red Sox would almost surely prefer to change that prior to Opening Day. There won’t be nearly enough at-bats available to keep him content, even if the team did start to sit David Ortiz more frequently against left-handers.
Left field
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Jeremy Hermida
3. Josh Reddick
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Center field
1. Mike Cameron
2. Jacoby Ellsbury
3. Ryan Kalish
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Right field
1. J.D. Drew
2. Jeremy Hermida
3. Josh Reddick
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Designated hitter
1. David Ortiz
2. Victor Martinez
3. J.D. Drew
4. Mike Lowell
Hermida, Varitek and Hall would appear to be guaranteed spots on the bench. The fourth would have to go to Lowell if he’s still around and healthy. Otherwise, Hulett would seem to be the logical choice. Lowrie might yet be in the team’s long-term plans, but he needs at-bats after missing time due to wrist problems and he’ll probably get those in Triple-A.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.