Red Sox: Ode to the nomads on the roster or the minors

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 8: Phillips Valdez #71 of the Boston Red Sox delivers during the eighth inning of a game against the Houston Astros on June 8, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 8: Phillips Valdez #71 of the Boston Red Sox delivers during the eighth inning of a game against the Houston Astros on June 8, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Do the Red Sox have a nomad who could help the playoff push?

The Boston Red Sox have players with little name recognition on their 40-Man Roster or sequestered in the minors on a minor league contract. These are baseball nomads. They can wander from team to team in search of riches as free agency has created opportunity. But this is about other nomads – those who continue to move from organization to organization.

Today’s lead entry is a 29-year-old right-hander Phillips Valdez, who was recently optioned to Worcester. In 2020, Valdez impressed and certainly earned a roster spot this spring. Lately, times have been tough, but this is not new territory for the native Dominican.

Valdez was signed as an international free agent by the Indians in 2008 and eventually released. That was repeated by Tampa. Next in line was the Nationals, the Tigers where Valez got to “The Show,” signed via Waivers by Seattle and then selected off waivers by the Red Sox.

Valdez will not need a GoFundMe page as he will be paid $578K for the season. In the context of baseball, this is chump change but there are two points in Valdez’s career that make the trek worth it. The first happened when the Rangers brought him up in 2018. That one day insured Valdez lifetime medical benefits at no cost.

"One day on an active roster qualifies a player for full comprehensive medical benefits. – Investopedia"

The second point is thanks to the Red Sox and it is all about service time. Just 43 days on the roster and Valdez will get his retirement kiss of $9,000K per year. That is the bottom rung and increases substantially as service time accumulates.

"Major League Baseball has the best pension program of all professional sports. A big-league player needs a short amount of time—just 43 days of service—to qualify for a pension benefit. Forty-three days of service can guarantee an MLB player almost $9,000 per year pension benefits. – Investopedia"

Just who is Hector Rondon? He’s a 33-year-old right-hander who has earned $23 MM in eight years in the MLB. Rondon’s track record of organizations is a travel guide. Boston is Rondon’s sixth organization and he is on the books for $1 MM and that is also his luxury tax figure. Rondon retired and as with Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox are contractually obligated to pay him and absorb the tax hit. Rondon is done with his travel odyssey.

Austin Brice and Colten Brewer have bounced around organizationally and with the Red Sox. Both are currently in Worcester awaiting another opportunity to accumulate service time. They are joined by fellow righty Daniel Gossett.

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Gossett surfaced in 2017-2018 in the majors with the A’s (4-14, 5.91) and is now with the Red Sox. The need for “Organizational Depth” signed Gossett for $750K. Gossett’s salary is also part of the Boston tax figure, as is outfielder Yairo Munoz.

The Red Sox have a solid catching duo but that is one split-finger injury away from changing. The Red Sox team has had a long history of having a veteran stored in Triple-A for such an emergency. This year it is Chris Herrmann.

Herrmann is the quintessential backup catcher – nomad combination. An eight-year veteran who is 33-years-old and a left-hand hitter. Boston is Herrmann’s seventh organization if I counted correctly. Herrmann also has a defensive plus of being able to play the corner outfield and first base. The Red Sox signed Herrmann to a minor league deal. A very similar profile to former Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon.

Very little attention is paid to the roster-filler signings but they occasionally surface to provide much-needed assistance. Ryan Brasier, Marcus Walden, and Hector Velazquez to mention three in recent years all contributed. Even a career minor league player like Dan Butler can get a small shot and contribute.

As the season progresses the Red Sox team will have a nomad surface just like every other team. The baseball unknowns keep track of their service time and will stay around looking for a chance to impress or hopefully not fail.

Next. Stop assuming every pitcher uses sticky stuff. dark

Is there a Bob Hazle somewhere in the minors that could influence the pennant race? That rubber bat that becomes wooden long enough to make a difference? A tired arm that suddenly adds needed plus innings to the August – September push?