Red Sox make surprising roster move that alters bullpen picture

2024 Dominican Republic Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays
2024 Dominican Republic Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters that his team's roster wouldn't be fully set until after their exhibition games against the Texas Rangers on March 25-26.

After the first of the two games, Boston made a shocking roster move, and it involves one of the bright spots from the 2023 roster.

Brennan Bernardino has been sent down to Triple-A, per the Red Sox transactions page. The 32-year-old played a huge part in Boston's bullpen success last year.

Bernardino had a breakout campaign in 2023. He made his MLB debut the year prior at the age of 30 for the Seattle Mariners where he logged just 2.1 innings. The left-hander then came to the Red Sox and shocked with his skill, posting a 3.20 ERA over 50.2 innings with 58 punchouts.

Red Sox send Brennan Bernardino to Triple-A in surprising move

The southpaw served as a reliever and opener for Boston during a season in which the staff struggled to keep its starting pitchers healthy. He also stood as one of the only lefties in the bullpen and seemed primed to continue that way this year, but Joely Rodríguez will remain as the only left-hander on Boston's pitching staff. Rodríguez doesn't have any minor-league options left while Bernardino has one remaining. The Sox are trying to hold onto both of their left-handed assets.

The Sox still have Lucas Luetge as a third lefty they could use in the bullpen. Luetge did not make the Opening Day roster and he'll begin his season in Triple-A — he had the potential to opt out of his contract with Boston if he didn't make the first 26-man roster, but the deadline had passed for him to invoke the clause.

Bernardino's stint in Triple-A will likely be short and just so the Sox can play the options game. Holding onto both Bernardino and Rodríguez is important to Boston's bullpen, which is already stressed in the absence of Chris Murphy and with the recent Josh Winckowski injury news.

Cora told reporters after the Sox's game on March 25 that Bernardino will be back in the bigs this season and that optioning him was a difficult decision. With any luck, Red Sox fans will get to see Bernardino in the big leagues sooner rather than later and he can continue to make a statement out of the Sox's 'pen.

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