Red Sox shortened 2020 season could make or break some careers

The condensed season could make or break certain Red Sox players.

Ever since spring training was shut down in the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the status of the 2020 Major League Baseball season has been in question. With the announcement last week that the season will be starting on July 23 and will consist of a condensed 60-game slate, fans and players alike have been wondering about how exactly it will all play out.

Chief among these concerns is the fact that the players were suddenly stopped after going through 3/4 of spring training. With the renamed summer training camp due to start on July 1, there is concern among players, fans, and the teams themselves how the condensed time frame in which to get into game-ready shape will impact the product on the field once it starts.

In a recent interview with WEEI, Red Sox relief pitcher Ryan Brasier offered some insight on this, echoing the thoughts of many others when he said “I think you’re going to see a lot of guys get hurt. I don’t know if it will be major but you are going to have a lot of guys in spring training who are going to need a few days.”

Going beyond that, though, Brasier brought up a more serious point in mentioning that whether players like it or not, this unusual two-month season could be the most important season of so many players’ careers. While superstars like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Bryce Harper are all established stars earning millions with secure spots on major league rosters, there are countless players on the bubble who will be fighting for their professional lives.

The only difference now is that instead of six months and 162 games in which to prove their worth, they’ve only got two months and 60 games to do so. Some of these players are in their early 20s and are trying to establish themselves in the league while others, like Brasier, are in their 30s and trying to survive and keep their spots.

For Brasier in particular, he’s 32 and is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career next offseason. The abbreviated 2020 season could be what determines whether or not he stays in the major leagues and that kind of pressure and its importance are not lost on him. Brasier seems to know that he’ll need to have a season more akin to what he did in 2018 than what he did in 2019 if he wants to remain a viable major league reliever.

“Sixty games … If you have 11 or 12 starts and you go out and go 9-1 and you do well people are going to be like, ‘Maybe he still has it.’ I’ll be 33 in August and I’ve told people close to me it’s really important for me to go out and throw well. If I do I might get a little more than I would have got either way and if I don’t it will probably be tough to get a job.”

He further made the comparison by invoking one of his teammates, rightly pointing out that even established stars like JD Martinez will benefit by having a good showing during these 60 games. In JD’s case, it won’t determine whether or not he stays in the big leagues but it will absolutely have an effect on determining how much he’ll get paid going forward.

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The juxtaposition of players looking for a bigger payday versus those just trying to stay in the league wasn’t lost on Brasier and is surely by felt by many across MLB. “There are a lot of guys, whether you’re making JD money or Ryan Brasier money, this season is important whether we like it or not.”

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