Well, that’s one way to overcome your issues with signing minor-league depth. As Bryan discussed yesterday, players don’t really want to sign with Boston since there is seemingly less of a chance to crack the major-league roster. The Red Sox still need their depth, though, so instead they’ve turned to the waiver wire. On Wednesday night, the team claimed Steve Selsky from the Reds, getting their 40-man roster up to 40 players.
If you’ve never heard of Selsky, don’t feel bad. He was Cincinnati’s 33rd round pick back in 2011, and has never really cracked top prospect discussions since then. He finally made his major-league debut in 2016, in what was his age-26 season. Prior to that, he had put up consistently solid numbers at every level, but given the low point at which he was starting no year was good enough to really put him on the prospect radar. Perhaps the most interesting part of Selsky’s biography, however, is just how athletic his family is. His father was also drafted into professional baseball. In fact, he was part of the first major-league amateur draft in history. His mother, meanwhile, was an Olympic volleyball player, while both of his sisters played Division 1 volleyball.
As I said, Selsky made his major-league debut this past year. He didn’t get a ton of time, though, accruing just 54 plate appearances in that time. The 26-year-old was solid in that small sample, however, as he hit .314/.340/.471 with the Reds. Prior to that, over 2075 minor-league plate appearances, Selsky hit .295/.379/.459 while posting OPS’s around .800 on a consistent basis from year-to-year. The right-handed bat has had some minor strikeout issues in the past, and his power’s been inconsistent throughout his professional career, but the bat to ball skills seem solid and he’s shown the ability to take a walk.
Of course, Selsky doesn’t figure to play a major role on this team if everything goes according to plan. He is listed as a 1B/OF, and has spent the majority of his professional career in the corner outfield spots as well as first base. He has spent a minimal amount of time in center field, but clearly that’s not the plan here. This gives the Red Sox a little more depth at a position that desperately needs it. Right now, the team’s minor-league outfield options are limited to Bryce Brentz, Rusney Castillo, Junior Lake and Brian Bogusevic. There is some hope for Castillo, but keep in mind that his salary counts against the luxury tax when he’s brought up to the majors. Adding Selsky to this mix can’t hurt. His ability to play first base could also help if something happens to Mitch Moreland and/or Hanley Ramirez and Sam Travis takes longer to get back to his former level than we expected.
In the end, this is as minor of a roster move as can possibly be made. As was pointed out in the MLB Trade Rumor piece, the Red Sox are towards the bottom of the claim priority. This means just about every other team in baseball passed on Selsky. Along those same lines, however, it’s possible they could try to sneak him back through waivers in order to keep him in the organization while freeing up his 40-man roster. Only time will tell. Late-January transactions, everyone!