TORONTO, CANADA: Michael Bowden #64 of the Boston Red Sox looks on as Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs past after hitting a home run during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
The Red Sox made a flurry of roster moves Sunday morning, partially as a response to the Jacoby Ellsbury shoulder injury that will keep him out for six-to-eight weeks time. Jason Repko was called up, but since he needed to be added to the 40-man roster, the move could not be made in isolation.
Che-Hsuan Lin, who spent all of a day in the majors, was optioned back down to Pawtucket. That cleared a space on the major-league roster, but to get Repko on the 40, Michael Bowden and Luis Exposito were designated for assignment. Exposito's dismissal makes room for Repko, and Bowden's opens up a 25-man roster spot for infielder Nate Spears, who was also called to the majors.
This means the Red Sox have 39 players on the 40-man roster, giving them some flexibility going forward. Given the number of players on the 60-day DL who are set to return at some point in 2012, that's not a bad thing to have, as it's one fewer player they need to put through waivers in order to make room.
It's also the end of having 13 pitchers on the roster. While that was an understandable precaution with the injury to Andrew Bailey and questions around Josh Beckett's thumb, it's one reliever too many for a team with three long men (Scott Atchison, Vicente Padilla, and arguably Alfredo Aceves) in the pen, along with Mark Melancon, Franklin Morales, and Matt Albers. Justin Thomas, who has an option, will likely survive in the majors until one of Rich Hill or Andrew Miller is ready to join the Sox.
Exposito is an organizational soldier type behind the plate, and it would be surprising if another team claimed him now that he's been exposed to waivers. There's nothing wrong with him, but he's likely to spend far more of his career in the minors than the majors, and isn't likely to be worth the 40-man spot to most teams.
As for Bowden, you can certainly see someone picking the former prospect up now that he's there for the taking. The Red Sox converted him to relief full-time last year, and while he succeeded in Triple-A, the majors were once again just too much for him to handle. (.337 batting average on balls in play, 5.61 ERA in 59-1/3 innings, 1.4 homers per nine, .203 Isolated Power in his major-league career.)
His auditions haven't been that long, so if someone has the roster spot and the need, he's worth trying out. But for a team in Boston's situation, it's hard to see what Bowden can do in the majors, especially with the other arms in the pen.