2015 Outlook: There's both statistical and physical volatility associated with Ramirez heading into 2015. Ramirez has played in at least 150 games just twice over the past six seasons, having missed time with oblique, hand and leg injuries. His batting average has ranged anywhere from .243 to .345 in recent seasons. He's hit 20 or more homers many times and stolen that many bases a number of times but has not done both in the same season since 2012. The move to Fenway Park provides Ramirez with the first friendly home ballpark in his career, but the ballparks are not what have hurt his fantasy production in recent seasons. This is a surefire first-round lock if health risks could be removed, but the fact that he's played just one full season in the past four is what keeps him out of the first round and possibly the second, depending on your comfort level.
2015 Outlook: A middle infielder by trade, Betts made his first professional start in the outfield with Double-A Portland in mid-May. By late June, he was manning the outfield for the Red Sox. Although there were certainly growing pains defensively, Betts fared well against big league pitching as a 21-year-old, finishing with a .368 OBP and an exceptional 88.3 percent contact rate. He struck out just 10 more times than he walked and smacked five homers, giving him a career-high 16 for the year across three levels. With Rusney Castillo expected to serve as the primary option in center and Shane Victorino (back) expected to be healthy for spring training, Betts' role in the field heading into 2015 is uncertain. However, manager John Farrell said in December that Betts was the leading in-house candidate to bat leadoff for the team this upcoming season, which helps ease concerns about his playing time. The spot atop the order should prove fruitful for stolen bases and runs scored.
2015 Outlook: The Red Sox jumped headfirst into the Cuban market last season, signing Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal in August. This is the richest contract ever to go to a Cuban signee, but the time of the signing and Castillo's perceived defensive value are the primary reasons there's such a gulf between his contract and those of Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes. Boston believes Castillo can be a plus up-the-middle defender, which makes him unique among his highly touted countrymen. Unfortunately, spring training brought about more questions than answers, as a left oblique injury sidelined Castillo, leaving Mookie Betts in the driver's seat to open the season as the starting center fielder. Castillo will now start his season with Triple-A Pawtucket, and while that obviously dampers his prospects, a trade or injury could open up an everyday job with the big club. The Cuban outfielder previously got a cup of coffee with Boston in September, slashing .333/.400/.528 with two home runs and three steals in 40 plate appearances. The key thing to take from this limited sample is that Castillo can contribute in home runs and steals as soon as he gets regular at-bats. A 20-20 season is within reach if he can find his way to an everyday role, but playing time concerns have been exacerbated with his season starting in the minors.
2015 Outlook: Acquired by the Orioles prior to the waiver-trade deadline last August, De Aza was a strict platoon option for Baltimore against right-handed pitching down the stretch. The veteran outfielder struggled mightily against southpaws (.138) last season, which is odd considering he hit .302 against them the year prior. Nevertheless, De Aza finished 2014 with a .252 batting average, 8 home runs, 41 RBIs, 56 runs scored and 17 steals in 528 plate appearances between the White Sox and Orioles. Since he primarily contributes via the runs-scored and stolen-base categories, much of his 2015 fantasy value hinges on his usage in Baltimore. If De Aza can find his way to the leadoff spot in the Orioles' lineup on a semi-regular basis, he could end up being a strong two-category contributor. Travis Snider and Steve Pearce also figure to be in the mix for starts in the corner outfield spots, but De Aza's speed should allow him to be the starting left fielder more often than not.
2015 Outlook: Craig had a miserable 2014 season that was scuttled by a nagging foot injury that forced him to miss more than a month -- mostly after his surprising trade to the Red Sox as part of the John Lackey deal. Now he's in a situation in Boston where he's going to have to fight for playing time, following all the additions to the lineup this offseason. First base is occupied by Mike Napoli, DH is held down by David Ortiz, and the corner-outfield slots (where he's particularly ill-suited to play) are manned by Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, not to mention Mookie Betts is looking for a place to play. Craig could end up behind all of them, subbing maybe once a week at each spot, but he's going to have to wait for a trade or an injury or two before he gets full-time at-bats. Assuming that his foot has fully recovered, he could be in a more favorable power situation in Fenway but will probably hit lower in the order than he did with the Cardinals. Getting any more than two or three stolen bases seems out of the question, so he's really going to need to improve those power stats to provide a lot of value.
2015 Outlook: Bradley demonstrates how quickly a player's value can turn in the game. Two seasons ago, he parlayed a dynamite spring training into a major league job and a ton of buzz about his future with the Red Sox. But it turns out he wasn't capable of making the jump from Double-A to the big leagues after all, and was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket to finish the season and continue his development. Alas, 2014 was a worse season at the major league level for Bradley, as his strikeout rate spiked to 28.6 percent while his ISO dropped to a miniscule .068. His defense remained excellent, but he's been bypassed by multiple outfielders, both from the outside and from within the Red Sox organization. It will take multiple injuries on the big league roster to create substantial playing time for Bradley, who very well could spend much of 2015 in Rhode Island.
2015 Outlook: Due to injuries and poor play by players ahead of him on the depth chart, Holt found his way to 279 plate appearances and a .327/.371/.463 slash line in the first half. He became something of a mythical figure among Red Sox fans and at the same time he developed into a small-sample-size punch line among the pessimistic sabermetric crowd. After hitting .219 in the second half, almost all of his midseason shine is gone, and he will enter 2015 as a strict utility option. Boston has amassed perhaps the best and deepest collection of hitters in the big leagues, leaving nowhere for Holt to play at the moment. In addition to the predictable regression to his batting average, Holt is even less appealing for fantasy purposes, as he figures to hit fewer than five home runs and steal fewer than 10 bases in even the most optimistic part-time role.
2015 Outlook: It was generally assumed that Nava's tremendous 2013 campaign would afford him a relatively long leash as the primary right fielder in Boston, but he was sent down less than a month into the season after slashing just .149/.240/.269 in his first 17 games. He continued to struggle upon his return in late May, going hitless in his first five games back, but Nava batted .331 over the following two months, albeit with just six extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. Nava posted a .830 OPS with two homers and 17 RBIs in September, but finished with just four homers and a .706 OPS, 125 points below his 2013 mark. While he improved his contact rate to a career-best 86.7 percent, he had a mere .399 OPS from the right side of the plate, leaving him to consider giving up switch-hitting. It would probably be for the best, but Nava's ability from the left side alone might not be enough to earn him regular time to start the year unless Shane Victorino experiences more health issues.