Boston Red Sox: 5 Players Who Are in Serious Danger of Being Cut or Demoted
Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez are battling for the final two spots in the rotation, and veteran Kyle Kendrick is also pitching well as a non-roster invitee looking to win a depth role.
As for the catcher situation, Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez appear to have the upper hand over Blake Swihart to break camp with the team, but nothing is set in stone just yet.
A former top prospect out of minor league options and a Rule 5 pick battling a sore knee provide further intrigue to the impending roster crunch.
Ahead you'll find a projected 25-man roster, a full list of projected roster cuts as a result and a closer look at five notable players on the outside looking in for a spot on the Red Sox roster.
Projected 25-Man Roster
Projected Opening Day Roster
|Starting Lineup||Starting Rotation|
|2B Dustin Pedroia||LHP Chris Sale|
|LF Andrew Benintendi (R)||RHP Rick Porcello|
|SS Xander Bogaerts||LHP Drew Pomeranz|
|RF Mookie Betts||RHP Steven Wright|
|DH Hanley Ramirez||LHP David Price|
|CF Jackie Bradley Jr.||Bullpen|
|3B Pablo Sandoval||RHP Heath Hembree|
|1B Mitch Moreland||LHP Fernando Abad|
|C Sandy Leon||RHP Matt Barnes|
|Bench||LHP Robbie Ross Jr.|
|C Christian Vazquez||RHP Joe Kelly|
|IF Deven Marrero||RHP Tyler Thornburg|
|IF/OF Brock Holt||RHP Craig Kimbrel|
|OF Chris Young|
Projected DL: Carson Smith (Tommy John surgery)
Bold signifies new acquisition.
Full List of Projected Roster Cuts
C Blake Swihart
IF Marco Hernandez
IF Josh Rutledge (Rule 5)
OF Bryce Brentz (out of options)
OF Steve Selsky
SP Roenis Elias
SP Brian Johnson
SP Henry Owens
SP Eduardo Rodriguez
RP Kyle Martin
RP Noe Ramirez
RP Robby Scott
RP Brandon Workman
RP Luis Ysla
C Dan Butler
C Jake DePew
C Jordan Procyshen
1B Sam Travis
1B Allen Craig
3B Matt Dominguez
3B Rafael Devers
OF Brian Bogusevic (out of options)
OF Rusney Castillo
OF Junior Lake
SP Kyle Kendrick
RP Jamie Callahan
RP Austin Maddox
RP Edgar Olmos (out of options)
RP Chandler Shepherd
RP Ben Taylor
RP Hector Velazquez
RP Marcus Walden
Notable Projected Cut: OF Bryce Brentz
Roster Status: 40-man roster, out of minor league options
Role: Fourth outfielder
Projected Roster-Spot Winner: Chris Young
Other Contenders: Brian Bogusevic, Rusney Castillo, Junior Lake, Steve Selsky
Spring Stats: 2-for-16, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R
The No. 36 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Bryce Brentz looked to have a bright future after a huge first full professional season.
The Middle Tennessee State product hit .306/.365/.574 with 25 doubles, 30 home runs and 94 RBI while splitting the 2011 season between Single-A and High-A.
That earned him the No. 5 spot among Red Sox prospects heading into the 2012 season, per Baseball America, but his development has stalled in the years since.
The 28-year-old has spent parts of the past five seasons playing at the Triple-A level, hitting a combined .247/.309/.431 with 53 doubles and 41 home runs in 1,096 plate appearances.
Now he's out of minor league options and unlikely to earn a roster spot, which could put an end to his tenure with the organization if someone else is willing to put in a waiver claim.
Notable Projected Cut: RHP Kyle Kendrick
Roster Status: Non-roster invitee
Role: No. 4/5 starter
Projected Roster-Spot Winner: Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright
Other Contenders: Roenis Elias, Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez
Spring Stats: 9.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
Fun fact: Kyle Kendrick was an Opening Day starter in 2015.
He wrapped up that season at 6-13 with a 6.32 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in what would be his one and only season pitching for the Colorado Rockies and then spent all of last season in the minors with the Los Angeles Angels.
So why is he worth a mention here?
The 32-year-old was a steady innings eater for the Philadelphia Phillies prior to falling off the tracks the past two years, averaging 167 innings per year from 2010 to 2014 with a respectable 4.33 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.
If he still has something left in the tank—which it looks like he might so far this spring—he could be valuable rotational depth for a Red Sox team that has a fairly steep drop-off after their top six guys.
Henry Owens and Brian Johnson have stalled in their development, and if Kendrick is willing to accept a minor league assignment, he could fall into some spot starts in 2017.
However, the veteran has multiple opt-out dates if he's not on the active roster, according to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald.
Notable Projected Cut: IF Josh Rutledge
Roster Status: 40-man roster, Rule 5 pick
Role: Utility infielder
Projected Roster-Spot Winner: Deven Marrero
Other Contenders: Marco Hernandez
Spring Stats: 1-for-6, 1 R
Alright, let's break this down:
- Nov. 3: Josh Rutledge is outrighted off the 40-man roster by the Boston Red Sox.
- Nov. 3: Rutledge refuses a minor league assignment and becomes a free agent.
- Nov. 23: Rutledge signs a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies.
- Dec. 8: The Red Sox select Rutledge in the Rule 5 draft.
"Ha, didn't think you'd get away that easily did you?" might have been what team president Dave Dombrowski was thinking.
The 27-year-old underwent left knee surgery last August and he's been used sparingly so far this spring as he's dealt with some residual swelling, according to WEEI.com.
That's opened the door for former first-round pick Deven Marrero to potentially seize the utility infield job.
Marrero is a superior defender up the middle and he's gone 9-for-21 with three doubles at the plate so far this spring.
If that does wind up being the case, Rutledge will be returned to the Rockies.
Notable Projected Cut: C Blake Swihart
Roster Status: 40-man roster, one minor league option remaining
Role: Starting/backup catcher
Projected Roster-Spot Winners: Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez
Other Contenders: None
Spring Stats: 4-for-13, 1 R
While the odds are stacked against Blake Swihart breaking camp with a roster spot, he still has a chance to be a big part of the Red Sox's long-term plans.
The 24-year-old was ranked as a top-100 prospect by Baseball America three different times, peaking at No. 17 prior to the 2015 season when he also checked in as the No. 1 prospect in the Boston system.
He hit .274/.319/.392 with 23 extra-base hits in 309 plate appearances in his first crack at the majors that season, but 2016 wound up being essentially a lost year.
Swihart played in just 19 total games before suffering an ankle injury playing left field that eventually required surgery. Now the outfield experiment is over, and he's looking to get his development back on track behind the plate.
"He grabbed the attention of a lot of people at the end of 2015," manager John Farrell told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. "Where that average plays out, we don't know. He's got good bat speed to handle high velocity. What you do offensively carves out playing time and how much time you're going to be given back there. In his case, it's always been the defensive side that needs development."
With Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez both out of minor league options, a Triple-A assignment for Swihart seems like the obvious move.
Notable Projected Cut: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
Roster Status: 40-man roster, two minor league options remaining
Role: No. 4/5 starter
Projected Roster-Spot Winner: Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright
Other Contenders: Roenis Elias, Brian Johnson, Kyle Kendrick, Henry Owens
Spring Stats: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Despite the fact that Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright both earned a trip to the All-Star Game last season, few would argue with the idea that Eduardo Rodriguez has a higher ceiling than both of them.
However, he's also the least established of that trio who is vying for the final two spots in the starting rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and David Price.
So where does that leave the 23-year-old lefty?
"Don't call it a rotation competition. Call it a set rotation with a clear fill-in," wrote Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. "If everything breaks the Red Sox's way, Eduardo Rodriguez—the guy with the highest ceiling—is actually the one who should be in Triple-A on Opening Day."
The 2016 season was a mixed bag for E-Rod as he went 3-7 with a 4.71 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 107 innings over 20 starts.
However, he finished strong with a 3.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 33 innings over six September starts.
Still, assuming David Price is ready to go on Opening Day and the staff doesn't suffer any other injuries, a trip to Pawtucket appears to be in his future.