What does Marcus Wilson’s future with the Red Sox look like?
The Boston Red Sox may soon have a decision to make when it comes to outfield prospect Marcus Wilson’s future in the organization.
Wilson, who turns 25 in August, is quietly putting together a solid season with Triple-A Worcester, as he comes into play Tuesday sporting a .277/.382/.564 line (151 wRC+) to go along with five doubles, two triples, six home runs, 17 RBI, 16 runs scored, five stolen bases, 15 walks, and 40 strikeouts over 27 games played.
Among the top hitters in the Triple-A East, the 24-year-old outfielder ranks 27th in batting average, 19th in on-base percentage, 12th in slugging percentage, 10th in OPS (.946), 12th in weighted on-base average (.408), and 12th in wRC+, per FanGraphs.
While he is not listed on either of Baseball America’s or MLB Pipeline’s top prospect charts within the Red Sox organization, Wilson is regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 39 prospect in Boston’s farm system.
The Red Sox originally acquired the right-handed hitter from the Diamondbacks as part of the trade that sent Blake Swihart to Arizona in April 2019.
Wilson was added to Boston’s 40-man roster that November, but with no minor-league season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was surprising to see that the speedster was not added to the Sox’ 60-man player pool until September, which meant he was only at the team’s alternate training site for about three weeks.
On top of that, the Red Sox were not able to send Wilson to their fall instructional league on account of the fact that he was already on the club’s 40-man roster.
Still, despite those setbacks in 2020, the 6-foot-2, 199 pounder has emerged as an everyday presence with the WooSox, and his consistent play to this point in the year has certainly been encouraging.
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That being said, as the Red Sox look ahead to this summer’s trade deadline and even this fall’s deadline to add Rule 5-eligible prospects to their 40-man roster, Wilson’s future with Boston becomes somewhat cloudy.
As currently constructed, the Sox’ 40-man is at full capacity with two players — pitchers Chris Sale and Ryan Brasier — on the 60-day injured list, which means two spots will need to be cleared if the two hurlers return to action later this season.
Additionally, five players on the 40-man (Tanner Houck, Connor Seabold, Bryan Mata, Eduard Bazardo, Hudson Potts) are at the moment inactive due to either being on the seven- or 60-day injured lists.
There are also three players on the 40-man (Ronaldo Hernandez, Jeisson Rosario, Jay Groome) who are currently at Double-A Portland or below, so you can make the case that none those three will be ready to contribute in the majors this season.
Taking all that into consideration, approximately 20% of Boston’s 40-man roster is reserved for players who are either hurt or still developing, which leaves the Sox handcuffed to some degree in terms of roster flexibility.
With that in mind, one has to wonder if someone like Wilson could become expandable for the Red Sox if it allowed the club to create space on its 40-man roster for a trade deadline acquisition or prospect that will need protecting from the Rule 5 Draft this November, like Jeter Downs or Jarren Duran, for example.
When speaking with reporters (including The Athletic’s Chad Jennings) over the weekend, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom discussed this to some extent, explaining how not every prospect within Boston’s farm system will necessarily help the team by playing for them at the big-league level.
"“I’d always like to have more (prospects),” Bloom said. “I’d like to think that we’re going to find other ways as time goes on to bolster our system. But we also want to make sure we’re maximizing the value of those guys to help us win. Sometimes that’s by developing them, and sometimes it could be if we find the right trade to help us now, and maybe we’re willing to use some of those guys in our system in a different way.”"
If Wilson continues to produce for the WooSox as the July 30 deadline approaches, it should be interesting to see if the Red Sox attempt to “sell high” on the outfielder if it creates the roster flexibility they will need in the coming weeks and months.