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Boston's 40-Man Roster And The 60-Day DL

Jacoby Ellsbury's shoulder injury means another Red Sox player on the 60-day disabled list. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jacoby Ellsbury's shoulder injury means another Red Sox player on the 60-day disabled list. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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In order to get Mauro Gomez on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox moved Jacoby Ellsbury to the 60-day disabled list. While he's not expected to miss additional time with the move -- he was expected to miss up to two months, anyway -- this makes seven Red Sox of the 11 on the disabled list on the 60-day.

Having players on the 15-day DL is tough enough, as a team needs to clear room on the 25-man roster in order to take them off. But the 60-day DL is more complicated, as placement there opens up a spot on the 40-man roster -- a spot that, after two months (or whenever the player is healthy again) needs to be opened up once more.

Not all seven of Boston's 60-day players need to be on the 2012 Red Sox. John Lackey and Chris Carpenter, who both had elbow surgeries, are likely there for the season. Bobby Jenks is in the last year of his contract, and in addition to his health problems, the Red Sox are finding it difficult to have all of their useful relievers in the majors at once. It becomes even less likely that Jenks is removed from the DL when you combine the two.

That leaves four players Boston will eventually have back on their 40-man roster. Andrew Bailey, expected back mid-season after recovery from thumb surgery. The aforementioned Ellsbury, who, although there's been no official timetable, is expected back in mid-June from his dislocated shoulder. Carl Crawford is eligible to come off of the DL on June 3, and while he is unlikely to return right then, that's not far off. Ryan Kalish, whether he plays in the majors or not in 2012, will still need to have his 40-man roster spot back once he's back and playing.

Players are going to be designated, traded, or cut in order to make room. Just who is likely to be removed from the 40-man, though, in order to get these important Red Sox back on the field?

  • Matt Albers is a possibility to be traded. In a world where Justin Thomas is claimed days after he's designated -- and by the powerful Yankees, no less -- Albers has value to someone. Dealing him for someone in the low minors, who doesn't need a 40-man spot, would make sense. That, or a player to be named later, in order to keep the spot temporarily empty. Teams like the Phillies and Angels might be ready to make moves for relief as early as now (and in the Angels' case, have already).
  • Lars Anderson, who began to play in the outfield at Pawtucket in addition to first base, might still draw some trade interest despite his diminished value. (Maybe the Athletics, who lost interest in Anderson after acquiring the now-departed Brandon Allen.) Much like the Red Sox have taken on other team's failed prospects (like Andrew Miller), someone out there might think Anderson has something left to show. With Gomez around, the Red Sox have an emergency first baseman with options remaining even without Anderson.
  • This same idea applies to prospects like Oscar Tejeda, Stolmy Pimentel, and Drake Britton. All three have struggled, some more than others, and though they show flashes of their potential as well as their past, none of the group is necessarily back on the top prospect path yet. Designating them isn't an option -- that's just a poor use of resources -- but someone is likely to take them if they were offered. Remember how the Red Sox acquired Mike Aviles? Yamaico Navarro, who was on the 40-man at the time, and wasn't a spectacular prospect, either.
  • Jason Repko is the kind of player Boston might be able to designate for assignment, yet still retain. He didn't sign until nearly halfway through January on a minor-league deal, and was brought up mostly due to injuries. When Ellsbury and Crawford (and even Kalish) return, Scott Podsednik in tow without taking up a 40-man spot, and with promotions possibly changing the landscape of Boston's minor-league outfields by mid-season, Repko becomes somewhat superfluous, anyway, so losing him isn't the worst thing.
  • The same can be said for Marlon Byrd, who hasn't started a game since May 9, and has seemingly been replaced on the roster by Daniel Nava (though not in center -- that's what Ryan Sweeney is for). The Cubs are picking up all but the major-league minimum on Byrd's deal, so if the Red Sox aren't playing him, there's not a whole lot tying him to the roster. Like Repko, he's somewhat unnecessary once healthy outfielders return. Darnell McDonald has started slow, but he likely has a better bat at this point, can hit lefties well, and has years of team control left, so it makes more sense to keep him around than Byrd in the long-term.
  • If the Red Sox do trade Kevin Youkilis in order to keep Will Middlebrooks at third, it's possible that it would be in return for a low-level prospect or prospects, in order to help with roster construction. (Also because, by eating some of the remaining contract, the Red Sox should be able to extract some value for him, even with his struggles.) He doesn't need to be a third baseman, as someone with a hole at DH or first base could find playing time for Youk.
It'll take some housecleaning, but the Red Sox have the pieces to shift around in order to get a few of their most important players back once their bodies are ready for it.