The Red Sox bullpen has needed some extra help basically since the season began, and have been attempting to plug holes for the last few days. The latest in this series of moves came on Wednesday, when righty Anthony Varvaro was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for reliever Dalier Hinojosa. Jackie Bradley Jr., called up on Tuesday, was sent down for lefty reliever Tommy Layne, who already had one tour with the Sox this year. John Farrell himself mentioned the transactions during a radio spot with WEEI.
It's a bit surprising to see Varvaro designated, given he seemed like a nifty little pickup for the Sox and their bullpen depth this offseason when he was claimed off of waivers from the Braves. He's giving up hits with a little too much regularity to begin the year, though, and has struck out eight batters in 11 innings against six walks to begin the year. He's likely to recover -- Varvaro posted a 2.74 ERA over 128 innings in the previous two years -- but he's either going to do it at Triple-A Pawtucket, or for a new team if he's claimed. The Sox might be banking on Varvaro sneaking through waivers given his poor start and the need for whoever claims him to open up a 40-man spot.
As for Hinojosa, he's a 29-year-old Cuban right-hander whom the Sox signed as an international free agent in late 2013. He is going to walk batters -- he's handed out 4.8 free passes per nine in 69 Triple-A innings -- but he's also likely to miss a whole lot of bats with his middish 90s heat. The Sox haven't had enough of their relievers inducing whiffs en route to Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara -- thanks, Edward Mujica and Co. -- so Hinojosa will get the chance to change that. Possibly losing Varvaro is a real risk, but if it does end up getting the Sox those strikeouts and a relief presence they can count on, then it was worth it.
As for Layne, he mostly seems to be here because no one is hurt, therefore Matt Barnes can't be called up again since he was just demoted on Sunday. Layne can soak up some innings if necessary, or pitch in a spot where Farrell is maybe unsure of using (or can't use) Robbie Ross right now, and then head back down I-95 to Pawtucket once the Sox have someone better to stick in the pen. Such is the life of the up-and-down reliever.
Bradley is wonderful to have around for defensive purposes, but Mike Napoli is only ill, not on the disabled list, so the Sox aren't overly short on outfielders in the same way they are relievers. Especially not on Wednesday, the day after the Sox had to get 6-1/3 innings from their pen.