Trevor Story, SS, BOS
Story will begin a new chapter of his career in Boston this season after signing a six-year, $140 million contract with the Red Sox. With Xander Bogaerts entrenched at shortstop for at least one more season, Story will slide over to second base -- a position he has never played at the major league level before. That will likely result in some growing pains, as will adjusting to a new league, city, and team culture. Story will also leave Coors Field behind, where he had a career .972 OPS compared to .752 everywhere else. Fantasy gamers shouldn't be too concerned about the 29-year-old's home/road splits, however, as plenty of players have continued to thrive after moving on from Colorado. Fenway Park should also provide a soft landing for Story, as it's one of the more hitting-friendly venues in baseball. With the Green Monster to take aim at and a strong supporting cast around him, Story should continue to provide his usual 20/20 production with a strong batting average in the .260-.280 range, making him a premium middle-infield option.
Kyle Schwarber, OF/1B, PHI
Schwarber will play for his fourth team in three seasons in 2022 after signing a four-year, $79 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. The market for Schwarber was undoubtedly aided by the universal DH, which is expected to be Schwarber's full-time position sooner or later. While defense isn't the 29-year-old's strong suit, his bat was in high demand following an outstanding 2021 campaign in which he slashed .266/.374/.554 with 32 home runs en route to his first All-Star appearance. While his career has been up and down, Schwarber's power is undeniable and will certainly play well in his new home at Citizens Bank Park. With three career 30-homer seasons under his belt, Schwarber may be headed for his first 40-homer campaign soon if he stays healthy.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS
Given Boston's recent acquisition of shortstop Trevor Story, it seems increasingly likely that Bogaerts will not return to the Red Sox when he (almost assuredly) opts out of his contract after the 2022 season. While Bogaerts has publicly expressed a desire to remain with the franchise that drafted and developed him, he was also reportedly unhappy with the team's pursuit of another shortstop and desire to have him change positions. Bogaerts will remain at short in 2022, forcing Story over to second base, where he's never played before in his MLB career. Boston's front office also seems more interested in attempting to sign Rafael Devers to a long-term extension rather than give big money to Bogaerts, who turns 30 in October and has never been great defensively. While this shouldn't have much bearing on Bogaerts' performance in 2022, he could be extra motivated to put up big numbers again before testing the open market for the first time in his career.
Mookie Betts, OF, LAD
Betts is hoping to bounce back in 2022 after a down 2021 by his lofty standards. While he still made the All-Star team and socked 23 home runs, he did not win his usual Gold Glove and failed to receive MVP votes for the first time since his rookie season in 2014. Injuries played a major part in Betts' struggles last year, causing him to miss 40 games in all. He's still just 29, however, and all his skills remain intact, so he should have little trouble rebounding in 2022 as long as he stays on the field. He's also performed better in even-numbered years throughout his career, so don't be surprised if that trend continues in 2022. He's still an automatic first-rounder in fantasy drafts.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, MIL
Renfroe finds himself on his fourth team in four years after being traded from the Boston Red Sox just prior to the lockout. The slugging, hard-throwing outfielder re-established his value for both fantasy and real-life purposes with Boston in 2021, smashing 31 homers with a career-high 96 RBIs and a robust .816 OPS. He wasn't merely a byproduct of Fenway Park, either, clearing the fences 17 times on the road last season. And after smacking 26+ home runs every year from 2017-19 with the San Diego Padres, Renfroe is capable of hitting anywhere. His age (30) and lackluster plate discipline make him somewhat risky, especially in points leagues, but he can provide 25+ homers without killing you too much in batting average, making him a decent play in five-outfielder and NL-only formats.
Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, BOS
Bradley Jr. will look to bounce back in 2022 after rejoining the Red Sox. Bradley, who signed with the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2021 season, is back in Beantown following a disastrous sabbatical in the National League. Always a streaky hitter, Bradley saw his OPS+ crater to 34 with Milwaukee. Now back with the team that drafted and developed him, the hope is that getting Bradley back in his element will revitalize his bat, which produced one of the best seasons of his career in 2020 prior to his departure. While it's hard to trust Bradley in fantasy formats given his age (32) and erratic track record, he does have a pair of 20-homer seasons under his belt and can steal the occasional bag as well. He's expected to be Boston's starting right fielder to begin the season, though manager Alex Cora may not have a long leash with him if his offensive woes continue.
Christian Vazquez, C, BOS
Vazquez is looking to bounce back for Boston this year after regressing hard at the plate in 2021. Coming off back-to-back seasons of above-average offense, Vazquez saw his OPS nosedive 142 points from 2020 to 2021. Typically known more for his defense behind the plate than his work in the batter's box, perhaps it was regression to his true talent level coupled with age-related decline. It's worth mentioning, after all, that half of Vazquez's career home runs (23) came during the 2019 season alone. Now 31, Vazquez is at an age when backstops usually start to see their offensive production fall off a cliff, although he doesn't have as many miles on his legs as many catchers his age (614 career games played). Vazquez is worth a look in two-catcher formats given his hitting-friendly home park and talented lineup around him, but don't hesitate to cut bait if his bat takes awhile to warm up.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, KCR
Benintendi will look to improve on his first season with the Royals after the Red Sox traded him there prior to the 2021 season. While he didn't match his 2017-18 heights, the change of scenery seemed to do him some good following a disastrous 2020 and disappointing 2019. Benintendi batted a solid .276/.324/.442 with 17 homers in addition to winning his first career Gold Glove. His plate discipline regressed, however, and he was thrown out in nine of his 17 stolen base attempts. Now 27, Benintendi has the potential to go 20/10 with a solid batting average, making him something of a current Nick Markakis. He's worth drafting in five-outfielder leagues as a higher-floor, lower-ceiling option.
Jarren Duran, OF, BOS
Duran is looking to make more of an impact with the Red Sox this season after struggling in his MLB debut last year. Duran was one of Boston's top prospects prior to being called up from Triple-A around the All-Star break, but the skills he showed in the minors didn't translate during his initial stint in the majors. The 24-year-old was simply overmatched by MLB pitching, often chasing pitches out of the zone and finishing with an ugly 4:40 BB/K ratio and a .578 OPS in his first 33 games. While he has good speed and a bit of pop, he still needs to polish his plate approach if he wants to live up to the Jacoby-Ellsbury comparisons. Duran will certainly get another crack at the majors in 2022, although it may not be right away as the Red Sox will likely send him back down to Triple-A for additional seasoning. Keep an eye on him, though, in case some of his potential starts to shine through this year.
Rich Hill, SP, BOS
How is this guy still pitching? After a long, winding career full of twists, turns, and more than a few injuries, Hill is gearing up for his 18th MLB season at age 42. The veteran southpaw is back in Boston, where he made four starts at the end of their doomed 2015 campaign and began to re-establish himself as a quality starting pitcher. A lot has changed since his last stint in Beantown, but Hill has remained effective. He was also surprisingly durable last year, posting the second-most starts (31) and innings (158 and 2/3) of his career. While his peripherals were just okay, he still managed to keep his ERA below four for the eighth straight season -- an impressive feat for any pitcher. While it would be unwise to expect him to replicate last season's workload at such an advanced age, he'll likely play a prominent role in Boston's rotation, which is scarily thin beyond Nathan Eovaldi. Hill isn't worth carrying on your roster full-time, but he could have value as a streamer if his arm holds up.
Tanner Houck, SP/RP, BOS
Houck could be set for an expanded role in 2022 after impressing during his first two MLB seasons. While the Red Sox used him as a spot starter and long reliever last year to limit his innings, Houck persevered through the inconsistent usage and constant shuffling between the majors and minors. While his track record isn't very long, his 2.93 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, and 11.3 K/9 rate through 86 career innings are remarkable. The Red Sox will likely need the 25-year-old righty to cover more innings this year given the wobbly state of their rotation, so Houck should have a more permanent role on the pitching staff. His innings will likely be capped to prevent overuse, but the strikeout potential is tantalizing and makes him worth rostering in deeper leagues. If and when the Red Sox finally take the kid gloves off, this could be the year he truly breaks out and becomes a difference-maker in fantasy.
Nick Pivetta, SP, BOS
Pivetta's 2021 statistics may not look impressive, but many of them were actually the best of his career. A reclamation project acquired via trade from the Phillies, Pivetta has indeed gotten his career back on track with Boston. While consistency continues to elude him, the raw talent is clearly there and produced a 10.2 K/9 rate last season. Now 29 with five MLB seasons under his belt, Pivetta is a late bloomer who still has a bit of upside at this stage in his career. If he improves his command and limits his walks a bit more, he has the potential for double-digit wins with an ERA in the low fours with close to 200 strikeouts. That may not be the most exciting pitcher in the world, but it still has value in both real life and fantasy. After dominating in the postseason last year with a 2.63 ERA over 13 and 2/3 innings, he could be ready to take his game to another level.
Michael Wacha, SP, BOS
Nearly a decade after facing the Red Sox as a Cardinals rookie during the 2013 World Series, Wacha is trying to earn a spot in Boston's starting rotation. While the promise he showed in his early seasons never quite panned out, Wacha has managed to survive nine seasons in the majors despite struggling mightily during the last few. His 5.11 ERA, 5.07 FIP, and 1.45 WHIP over the last three seasons suggest a pitcher nearing the end of his career (especially at age 30), but Wacha sneakily finished 2021 on a tear. After making some adjustments, he posted a 2.88 ERA, 3.29 FIP, and 36:7 K/BB ratio over his final 34 and 1/3 innings of the regular season, offering hope for a return to form in 2022. That won't be easy pitching in the AL East with Fenway Park as his home stadium, but Wacha's situation is worth monitoring in case the former All-Star has actually gotten his career back on track.
Garrett Whitlock, RP, BOS
Whitlock was a revelation for the Red Sox last year, taking the league by storm after Boston poached him from the Yankees via the Rule 5 Draft. Used exclusively in relief, Whitlock emerged as Boston's most reliable fireman, especially during Matt Barnes's second-half collapse. Whitlock finished his first MLB season with an 8-4 record, a 1.96 ERA, and an 81:17 K/BB ratio in 73 and 1/3 innings spanning 46 relief outings. He continued to thrive in the postseason as well, proving he was up to the challenge against tough opponents in high-pressure situations. A former starter, Whitlock may see time in Boston's rotation this year, although he'll likely be used in a swingman type of role that enables him to pitch whenever and wherever Alex Cora deems necessary. He could see more save opportunities as well after converting a pair last year, giving him even more value in fantasy.