The recent outright of Alfredo Aceves has freed up a spot on the Red Sox 40-man roster. It’s not often that the 40-man roster of a contending team sits at 39 during the middle of the season; however, the Red Sox are in this position and have the chance to add a player without the potential loss of another. Many players that are close to major league ready and could help the Sox down the stretch are already on the 40-man roster. However, there are a few names like Bryce Brentz, Chris Martin, Ryan Rowland-Smith and the big one: Xander Bogaerts.
Brentz is sort of the position player equivalent of Brandon Workman as prospects go. He has never been especially highly regarded in the Red Sox system, but has always put up relatively good numbers and is now as close to major league ready as anyone in the system. He is enjoying a strangely consistent for the normally streaky 24-year old; he is slashing .272/.321/.487 with 16 home runs for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. Barring an injury, Brentz likely would not be the first to fill this 40-man vacancy for no other reason than that there is no place for him to start. The outfield looks pretty locked down with Daniel Nava (.288/.374/.429), Jacoby Ellsbury (.305/.368/.422), and Shane Victorino (.290/.337/.404) providing solid production. That’s not to say Brenz isn’t deserving, but it’s unlikely that he’s called up anytime soon.
Chris Martin does not deserve to be recognized as a huge prospect, being a 27 year old reliever. However, he has had great success in that role between Portland and Pawtucket this year. He allowed no runs and struck out 27 in 21 innings with Portland, and has had success after his promotion to Pawtucket as well, posting a 3.18 ERA and 28:6 K:BB ratio in 28.1 innings pitched. A big right-hander at 6’7″, 225 pounds, Martin throws in the mid 90′s with sink and complements that impressive fastball with a decent slider and below average change, according to SoxProspects. Martin could probably contribute in a big league bullpen, and if the Red Sox continue to have bullpen struggles, he may be added to the 40-man roster and then the Red Sox.
Ryan Rowland-Smith is another older reliever at 30 years old that is also have a fantastic season in the minors this year. Rowland-Smith is flat-out dominating at Pawtucket, with a 1.03 ERA and 38:11 K:BB ratio in 43.2 innings pitched. He also has a clause in his contract stating that he can opt out of his deal with the Red Sox if he is not on the 40-man roster by July 15. To save you the trouble of checking your calendar, that is today. Rowland-Smith is on the 15-day DL with an appendectomy right now, but that doesn’t restate the clause in his contract. If the Red Sox do not add him to their 40-man, he will almost certainly be picked up another team with the way he has pitched in Triple-A. That makes him, in my mind, the most likely candidate to be added to the 40-man roster.
However, Rowland-Smith is not the biggest name in these 40-man discussions. No, that would be Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts is also enjoying a successful season as a 20-year old between Double-A and Triple-A. Between the two levels, he has a .294/.390/.489 slash line and has been less spectacular but still impressive (given that he is 20 years old) at Triple-A, with a .260/.353/.462 slash line there. Bogaerts is the best prospect that the Red Sox have had in years, and he will get his chance soon. He is likely major league ready and could contribute given the right circumstances; however, with Brock Holt holding his own with a .300/.343/.300 slash line, the time might not be now. The Red Sox already have a bit of a roster crunch on the left side of the infield, and it’s best to let Bogaerts play everyday at Pawtucket rather than get caught up in this situation.