The Red Sox have optioned outfielder Rusney Castillo to Triple-A Pawtucket, leaving their once-crowded bench suddenly looking rather empty indeed. No counter move has been announced yet.
There's two sides to this. The first is what's best for Rusney Castillo, the second what's best for the Red Sox roster.
Let's start with Castillo. Certainly, he wasn't getting much out of being with the major league team. Eight games into the season, and he'd seen all of four plate appearances with the Red Sox. Four pretty good ones, mind--he picked up a couple hits against R.A. Dickey--but still just four. Essentially, he's wasting away out there, which isn't doing anyone much good at all. Heading to Pawtucket for the second straight year is not exactly what Red Sox fans had in mind when Castillo was signed, but Brock Holt is off to too good of a start to justify sitting him more than once in a blue moon, Mookie Betts is going to be playing every day, and while Jackie Bradley Jr.'s bat is slightly slow to start the season, he's still insane enough with the glove that he should probably be playing regularly too.
Sending Castillo to Pawtucket won't really give the Red Sox any information they didn't already have, and it probably won't help to get Castillo to the point where he commands a starting spot. He could hit .400 in Pawtucket, and it still wouldn't be the one thing he needs: results against major league pitchers. But at the very least, should the Red Sox need him at some point down the line, this will keep him from being thrown into the fire directly from the freezer.
Point - Counterpoint: Blake Swihart vs. Christian Vazquez
There's early pressure to swap Vazquez and Swihart's places in Pawtucket and Boston. Here's why it should happen. And why it shouldn't.
That brings us to what's best for the Red Sox, and really, it's hard to say until we find out who's on the way back up. As it stands, Boston's non-catching bench is Josh Rutledge and Chris Young. The presence of Brock Holt does make up some for a lack of depth, but not to the point where the Sox can really feel comfortable with so few hands on deck. There have been some suggestions that it might be Christian Vazquez coming up--either because the Red Sox plan on keeping three full-time catchers on board for some reason, or because they're open to Blake Swihart playing elsewhere in a pinch--but that seems like a sketchy proposition to me. If there's not enough playing time to go around with the outfielders in Boston, then there's not enough catching at bats to do so either. We'll see when the counter-move is made, but at least for now it seems like the Red Sox roster is going to be slightly worse-off in the short run as a result.
There's one other side worth mentioning, though, and that's sanity's. This Castillo carousel has been going 'round and 'round for quite a while now, and if the situation in the first week of the season wasn't ideal, at least it was consistent. The Red Sox would be silly to make decisions based on that, but damn if it's not a bit frustrating to be starting this whole cycle over again. One year later and we're in the exact same place.