The Red Sox announced a few more roster moves on Monday, shrinking their spring training roster even further. Starting pitcher Allen Webster and catcher Christian Vazquez were both optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, while shortstop Deven Marrero was reassigned to minor-league camp.
None of these cuts are surprising in the least. Webster -- who is considered the top pitching prospect in the system by some analysts, but hasn't proven he isn't a reliever yet to others -- is slated for Pawtucket's rotation, and is the likely candidate to be summoned to start after Brandon Workman, should the Red Sox need both of them in the majors at the same time. The hope is that, by the time he's needed, his fastball command will have improved, allowing him to setup his high-quality secondary offerings and get the swing-and-miss his stuff suggests he's capable of, while also inducing grounders with his heavy heater. As for Vazquez, he finished 2013 at Triple-A, and needs to spend more time there. Either Vazquez or Dan Butler are likely to be called up should there be an injury to either of A.J. Pierzynski or David Ross on the big-league roster this summer, especially now that Ryan Lavarnway appears to be a first baseman. Vazquez is the most intriguing of the bunch, even if he doesn't get as much love as fellow backstop prospect Blake Swihart, thanks to his phenomenal defense and patience-focused offensive skills.
Marrero isn't on the 40-man roster like Webster and Vazquez, so no option was used up reassigning him to minor-league camp. The glove of the 2012 first-round selection has pushed him to Double-A Portland before his bat was ready for the level, so he'll likely at least start 2014 there to see if things have improved. Boston doesn't have a true shortstop option at Pawtucket, with utility man Brock Holt currently projected for the position, so even if Marrero's bat doesn't catch up to his glove, he might find himself promoted once more now that Jose Iglesias is a Tiger and Xander Bogaerts is in the majors. Even if his bat ends up below-average in the end, Marrero's glove is major-league caliber with plus potential, so the chances of a useful career remain high.
Boston's roster is now at 43, with 10 non-roster invites remaining along with 33 members of the 40-man roster. Expect more (unsurprising) cuts in the week couple of weeks to shrink it down to the necessary 25, but there will be some surprises mixed in: we still don't know who is going to be the team's utility player, starting center fielder, or whether someone will surprise in the bullpen.