After days of waiting and wondering, it appears that the Red Sox have made a decision regarding who will be the left-hander in their bullpen to start the season.
The team announced yesterday that they have purchased the contract of 34-year old lefty reliever Dennys Reyes and have added him to the 40-man roster. Reyes signed a minor league contract with the team back in Feburary and originally had an opt-out clause that could have allowed him to simply walk away from the Red Sox if he didn't make the 40-man roster as of yesterday.
Because Reyes was added to the 40-man roster, the team had to clear space by placing Junichi Tazawa on the 60-Day Disabled List as he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Reyes now has the potential to earn up to 1.4 million dollars in 2011 with incentives with his now major-league contract.
While manager Terry Francona hasn't made anything official, it appears that Reyes will take one of the two available spots in Boston's bullpen to begin the season. Reyes and fellow lefty Hideki Okajima have been vying for that open spot throughout Spring Training.
Reyes has had a solid Spring for the Red Sox as he has only given up eight hits and three earned runs in nine innings of work. One thing that has given Reyes a leg up is his track record. Since debuting in 1997, Reyes is 35-35 with an ERA just north of 4. He also has historically great numbers against lefties.
As for Okajima, there is still an outside chance he captures the other spot remaining in the bullpen, but all indications point that there will only be one lefty in the Red Sox bullpen to begin the season. It appears that veteran Matt Albers will secure the final spot in the bullpen, because he doesn't have any minor league options left to use.
Because he has minor league options to use, Okajima will likely be sent down to AAA Pawtucket where he will look to improve his velocity and breaking pitches in the minors. This will likely be the fate awaiting Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront, as they too have minor league options left.
Adding Reyes to the roster is a pure depth move, as he would have likely refused a minor-league assignment and opted for Free Agency. Reyes has the track record and has proven in the past he can get lefties out. Great move by the team.