Welcome to Over The Monster’s One Big Question series. For the next 40 (week)days, we will be trying to answer one important question for each player on the Red Sox 40-man roster. The goal is to find one interesting portion of each player’s game to watch for, whether that be in spring training or the early regular season. We’ll be going straight down the list on the team’s roster page, meaning we’ll be going in alphabetical order through each position group, starting with the pitchers. Today, we’re highlighting Bryce Brentz.
The Question: Would the Red Sox miss Bryce Brentz if they were to lose him?
If it seems like Bryce Brentz has been around forever, it’s because he kind of has been. No, he’s not an immortal being, but he was a first round pick in 2010 and has been in our consciousness ever since. He came up through the minors relatively quickly as a college bat, making a short appearance in Triple-A in his second full season as a professional. He even made a top-100 list prior to the 2012 season. That was then, though, and this is now. Things have slowed considerably since that point, as he’s never been able to make that final leap after making his major-league debut in 2014.
If you do the math in your head, you’ll realize that means his debut was three years ago. Other than serving as a reminder of how old you’re getting, Brentz being three years removed from his debut also means the outfielder is out op minor-league options. In other words, if he doesn’t make the roster after spring training he’ll have to be exposed to waivers. Of course, the Red Sox are basically set in the outfield, so he’ll need at least one injury if he’s going to head to Boston for Opening Day.
Whether or not Brentz gets claimed likely has a lot to do with how he looks in spring training. I’d imagine there will be plenty of scouts at his games trying to figure out if Brentz’ power is worth it. My guess is someone will take a chance. The power is legit — which I’ll get to in a second — and there are plenty of outfield spots around the league. Some non-contender will have space on their roster to give that power a chance to shine. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not like it’d kill whatever team that happened to be. So, assuming that does happen, is that such a bad thing for the Red Sox?
To start, let’s talk about that power. I keep bringing it up because it’s easily the biggest asset Brentz brings to the table. On the one hand, you wouldn’t really be blown away just by looking at his stat lines. Over his professional career, he’s only topped the 20 home run mark once, and that was split between Greenville and Salem. However, that has more to do with his hit tool than his power. When he gets ahold of one, it’ll go a long way. As a righty, that is a useful asset for someone who calls Fenway home.
However, the rest of his game doesn’t quite make up for that. As I just alluded to, Brentz doesn’t boast the most refined hit tool. Over his short MLB career, he’s struck out almost 29 percent of the time while walking just over three percent of the time. That’s...well that’s a bad ratio. Of course, it’s also a small sample. Maybe his minor-league numbers will be bett...never mind. He has shown an ability — albeit an inconsistent ability — to draw a walk in the minors. However, he’s paired that with high strikeout rates even at the lower levels. Swing and miss is just part of his game.
On defense, Brentz isn’t the most versatile player. He can play either corner spot, but isn’t really a great fit for right field at Fenway. His arm certainly plays there, but he doesn’t quite have the range to cover Boston’s vast right field. That leaves him in left field, for which his bat would need to play up much more than it has. For some other teams with smaller outfields, though, he could probably play both corner spots.
Despite all that, there is likely some hope in the Red Sox front office that he’ll make it through waivers. Obviously, there’s that hope with most players who are exposed to that process, but Brentz could earn a little more. For one thing, he’s been here a while and has relationships with some of the young players on the team. More importantly, this is a team that is suffering from a lack of outfield depth in Pawtucket. Steve Selsky has apparently become John Farrell’s favorite player this spring, which probably bodes well. If Brentz leaves, he’s the primary outfielder to be called up. Beyond that, they have Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig — who they don’t want to call up for financial reasons — and Brian Bogusevic and Junior Lake. Having Brentz in that group would make us all feel a little better.
That being said, it clearly won’t/wouldn’t be the end of the world if/when he is claimed by another team next month. While the Red Sox don’t have a ton of minor-league depth in the outfield, they have one of the best major-league outfields in baseball. Chris Young and Brock Holt are pretty good backup options, too. Brentz has been with the Red Sox forever, but that will almost certainly be changing soon. Someone will take a chance on that power. Boston will wish him the best, but they probably won’t miss him too much.