Red Sox could lose two left-handed pitchers if they don't make the Opening Day roster

Jul 19, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Joely Rodriguez (57) pitches
Jul 19, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Joely Rodriguez (57) pitches / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox's pitching staff has been grappling with a myriad of issues this winter. From the front office not signing any high-quality talent to season-ending injuries, Boston's staff has been dealt a bad hand, yet again.

The Red Sox's pitching staff is dominated by righties. All of the starters — or the relievers the Sox are placing in the starting rotation — are right-handed. The bullpen is also chock-full of righties and the recent news of a throwing-arm injury to Chris Murphy has taken a left-handed depth-pitching option out of commission for some time.

Three lefties remain who have a shot to make Boston's Opening Day roster and they are Brennan Bernardino, Lucas Luetge and Joely Rodríguez. Bernardino is a guarantee for the 26-man roster after his performances from last season, and now that Murphy is likely to be out for an extended period, Luetge and Rodríguez have a better shot to make the Opening Day squad.

But if they don't make the cut, Luetge and Rodríguez can opt out of their contracts and seek to play elsewhere in 2024. If they do choose to opt out, the Red Sox would be left with Bernardino as the only left-handed pitcher currently on the 40-man roster, under the assumption that Murphy's elbow inflammation is a season-ending ailment.

The Red Sox could lose lefties Lucas Luetge and Joely Rodríguez to opt-outs if they don't make the Opening Day roster

The Red Sox are desperate for some variation in their bullpen with five right-handed starters, but they're also desperate to keep from spending any money. Boston could decide to spend on a $100,000 retention bonus to keep Rodríguez if he isn't placed on the Opening Day roster, but spending isn't in the current front office's plans for 2024.

Luetge has a different type of opt-out. If the Red Sox don't put him on the major-league roster to open the season, he can opt out of his contract to seek a major-league playing opportunity with another club. If there is no interest from another club, he can stay with the Sox. But if another team is interested, Boston is required to let him go.

Again, with Murphy's future uncertain, Luetge and Rodríguez have a better chance to secure roster spots. Rodríguez was on the team last season, but his extended tenure on the injured list prevented him from playing in many games — he made just 11 appearances for the Sox and he pitched to a 6.55 ERA over 11 innings. But an injury to any of the lefties in the pen while they're in such short order could be disastrous for Boston.

It would be in the Red Sox's best interest to include at least one of the two lefties with an opt-out on the 26-man roster. Luetge has made a good case for a spot this spring, as he's logged a 2.25 ERA with 10 strikeouts over eight innings of Grapefruit League action. Rodríguez is not far behind, with a 3.00 ERA and seven strikeouts in six innings.

In an ideal world, Luetge and Rodríguez continue to pitch well and both make the 26-man roster to avoid any opt-outs. But, as it stands, the Red Sox's pitching staff could be in more trouble than it has been in recent memory.

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