Justin Germano Exercises Opt-Out; Will He Be A Red Sox Or Free Agent?

Dunedin, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Justin Germano (50) throws during the bottom of the second inning of a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Justin Germano was one of the many recipients of minor-league contracts from the Boston Red Sox this past off-season. While a few of these players have made it to the majors -- Vicente Padilla is a key piece in the bullpen, while Aaron Cook is part of the current rotation -- not all of them, like Germano, have had the pleasure. Because of this, Germano exercised his July 1 opt-out clause, giving the Red Sox 48 hours to respond by either granting him his free agency, or moving him up to the 25-man roster.

There's room, albeit temporary, on the 40-man roster, now that Darnell McDonald has been designated for assignment. There can also easily be room on the 25-man roster, should Boston decide to send Clayton Mortensen, whose option is already in use for 2012, back to Pawtucket for his third go-round there in 2012. Whether the Red Sox feel Germano is worth holding on to for the next couple of weeks is the real question, though, as they aren't likely to even bother shuffling around like that if they don't feel he's any better than their already considerable bullpen depth.

Germano has been great for Pawtucket, but mostly on the strength of the kind of control he's always had against minor-league competition. In the majors, his career walk rate is nearly double that of its minor-league cousin, and that makes his K/BB -- and reliance on putting the ball in play -- a sketchier proposition against big-league hitters if he's going to remain a starter. This isn't uncharted territory for the 29-year-old, and while there's no denying that he could be a useful piece in someone's bullpen, as he was in 2010 with the Cleveland Indians, given that Boston already has more relievers than they know what to do with, it might not be theirs.

As said, though, making room is as simple as optioning Mortensen down, but that would complicate things in as little as a week, when one (or both) of Carl Crawford or Jacoby Ellsbury is ready to come off of the 60-day DL, necessitating the clearing of a 40-man spot. And, to top that off, there's another reliever, Andrew Bailey, who might not be that far behind, and is also in need of his own 40-man spot.

Let Germano walk, or shuffle things around to give him a short audition in the Boston pen?

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