The Red Sox have added relief pitchers Luis Ysla and Kyle Martin to their 40-man roster, protecting them from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. With the additions, the Red Sox’ 40-man is now full.
Martin and Ysla were two of the players most likely to earn protection. As Matt Collins pointed out on Thursday, bullpen arms are the easiest for teams to take in the Rule 5 draft and then hide away on their major league roster. A team has to keep players taken in the Rule 5 draft on their Major League roster or send them back to the team they were taken from. Teams can generally pull that off with the last men in the bullpen, exposing them only in low-leverage situations until they’ve proven themselves worthy of more.
And these are two of the best draft-eligible relievers in Boston’s farm system. It was surprising, frankly, that Martin didn’t see time in Boston during 2016 when the bullpen was struggling. The 25-year-old righty out of Texas A&M had a strong season with Pawtucket, striking out 10.5 batter per nine innings of work. Ysla has barely touched Triple-A and produced disappointing numbers in Portland, where he struggled mightily with control, but he scouts well enough with a fastball that can get into the high-90s that his reputation has often outpaced his results.
Notably absent from Boston’s 40-man is Justin Haley, who had the look of a late bloomer last year in Portland, pitching to a 2.20 ERA in 61 innings of work before a solid 14-start stint in Pawtucket. He’s not the most exciting arm in the world, but in a market where even mediocre pitchers are likely to be coveted, it would not be surprising to see a second- or third-division team shrug and give Haley a spot where they can’t find anyone else. Given the presence of easily-dropped players like Bryan Holaday on the roster, it seems strange for the Sox to just risk letting him go.