Expect the 2022 Red Sox pitching roster to be in constant movement
The Boston Red Sox will have 28 players on their roster until the end of April when a reduction to 26 will occur. Within this roster, shenanigans are the mandate to have rosters limited to 13 pitchers once April is done. The Red Sox roster currently carries 15 pitchers or at least players listed as pitchers, with performance being a questionable component.
The math problem is relatively simple on the reduction as two pitchers will be demoted, traded, released, or otherwise removed from the roster. If this were a Broadway show, it would be listed as an open audition with all participants in the same room (stadium) to see how their competition does.
The Red Sox have significant pitching issues that will eventually be the downfall of the 2022 team. Manager Alex Cora will trot out a steady stream of relievers as he attempts to solidify his staff. But which two will go? And that will be for the immediate as expect the roster sands to be constantly shifting this season. Expect internal options to be explored first.
Lefty Austin Davis has an option left and could be advised not to make any long-term rental agreements in Boston. Davis has four years in The Show, with 2021 served with the Red Sox and Pittsburgh. Big Fudge has one advantage of being genetically blessed as a left-hander on a thin roster with lefties out of the bullpen.
Options are also available on Kutter Crawford, who made the roster after a productive spring training. The 26-year-old made one start for Boston in 2021 and got lit up, and Crawford’s development may better be served in Worcester.
Another possible candidate is a righty, Phillips Valdez. Valdez has demonstrated quality in 2020 (1-1, 3.26) and dreadful in 2021 (2-0, 5.85). At 30-years-old Valdez has no real upside and is undoubtedly a combination of a journeyman – 4A as a pitcher.
Chaim Bloom signed free agent Matt Strahm for pitching depth, and the right-hander can start or work multiple bullpen innings. Statistically, Strahm has been more productive out of the ‘pen than as a starter, but with the Red Sox, you never know.
Any direction the Red Sox roster goes in will not be emotional turmoil for RSN. These constitute minor moves unless you are the player. The simple transaction wire statement that a career has ended or taken a downturn. I expect a steady stream of transactions on pitching will be the methodology for the season.
Bloom has stocked the Worcester roster with experienced arms, with the most notable being lefty Derek Holland. Holland had a world of promise in the last decade, with the Rangers winning 38 games over three seasons as a starter. Holland chose to stay since I suspect he realizes opportunity may be available soon.
Darwinzon Hernandez was demoted with the lasting hope of all managers and pitching coaches that the lefty could locate home plate. Hernandez can be devastatingly good or awful, but Hernandez could be called back pronto if good consistently surfaces.
Michael Feliz made a brief stop in Boston in 2021 and accepted a stay in Worcester. Feliz’s performance in the International League could be a short stay. Feliz has a career 11.8 K% and 227 MLB games with a smorgasbord of teams.
With Feliz and Holland, a roster move would have to be made to add them to the 40-man roster. The same would apply to a few other arms that could advance, but the WooSox roster also has a few notable arms that could surface and are on the 40-man.
Connor Seabold and Josh Winckowski are still quite solid prospects, and with Boston’s rotation seemingly in perpetual flux, they could get a spot start call. I would not be surprised to see either appear in Boston along with prospect Durbin Feltman. That is an overview of the internal options, but my prediction is eventually, the external will have to be explored.
The big item would be a trade, and Bloom will be working on that significantly if pitching deteriorates. The possible free agents available after the season is extensive but what is rich in numbers is weak in quality. Just who could be known available as the season slogs forward will become grist for the rumor mill.
The Red Sox could also accept a salary dump elsewhere with mid-range prospects as possible bait. Our farm system is producing position players, but – as usual – the pitching is another case study in minimal returns. The Red Sox may be in a position where they eventually have to overpay to address pitching needs.
Meanwhile, the first moves will soon take place to accommodate the new roster initiatives, but more will follow. The transaction wire may be blistering with just Red Sox pitching moves, but most will just be sideward moves.