Red Sox trade left-handed pitcher Roenis Elias to Seattle Mariners

The Boston Red Sox announced that they have traded left-handed pitcher Roenis Elias back to the Seattle Mariners organization he started his career with.

Roenis Elias is heading back to a familiar setting. The Boston Red Sox have traded the lefty back to the Seattle Mariners, the franchise he debuted with four years ago.

Boston will receive a player to be named later or cash considerations in the deal. It’s unclear why the Red Sox were eager to move him even if there was no clear path to a spot on the major league roster.

His departure opens a spot on the 40-man roster, so another move could be forthcoming. If another trade isn’t on the horizon then a prospect with higher upside could replace Elias.

The Red Sox acquired Elias, along with reliever Carson Smith, from the Mariners in exchange for left-handed starter Wade Miley prior to the 2016 season. The deal hasn’t exactly panned out for either side.

Miley went 7-8 with a 4.98 ERA in 19 starts for the Mariners before moving on to the Baltimore Orioles, where his performance further declined. Miley is currently on a rehab assignment in the Milwaukee Brewers system and has yet to pitch in the big leagues this year.

Smith missed almost the entire 2016 season after undergoing Tommy  John surgery. He looked strong in his return last September and pitched well into the postseason. He’s had some shaky outing to begin this season but the Red Sox expect Smith to be a key part of their bullpen.

Elias had even less of an impact in Boston. He’s pitched a total of eight innings for the Red Sox over the previous two seasons and has spent all of this season in the minors. He’ll exit the organization carrying a brutal 12.38 ERA in his limited time here.

The Red Sox converted Elias from a starter to the bullpen this spring. With a lack of left-handed relievers on the big league club, the idea was that Elias may have a better shot to reach the majors pitching out of the bullpen.

Bobby Poyner beat out Elias for the role of lefty reliever to begin the season. Poyner hit the disabled list but Elias still wasn’t called up. The Red Sox starting rotation is now back at full strength, allowing Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez to move to the bullpen. That left no room for Elias.

The results are still a small sample size but Elias has shown potential as a reliever. He’s allowed only one earned run over 7 1/3 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket this year. The Mariners gave up on Elias once already but perhaps they were enticed by what they’ve seen from him in his new role.

The Red Sox have an abundance of pitching depth now that their rotation is healthy yet you can never have too much pitching. Elias may have been a long shot to be called up but there must be a plan to replace his spot on the 40-man roster if they were willing to give him away for practically nothing.