The first move involving the Red Sox of this year’s Winter Meetings is in the books, though it’s a subtraction rather than an addition. As Dave Dombrowski and company look for reliever help, they have cleared a roster spot by losing one of the relievers that was low on the organization’s depth chart. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported early Monday afternoon that the Cincinnati Reds had acquired Red Sox left-handed reliever Robby Scott.
In the tweet above, Rosenthal mentions he does not yet have word on the return but later reported that it was just a straight waiver claim. In other words, the Red Sox lost Scott for nothing. Ultimately, this was just Boston clearing a roster spot and hoping to clear Scott through waivers and be able to keep him in Triple-A without having him on the 40-man.
Obviously, that didn’t work, but the team does have their 40-man roster down to 39 players. There are a few ways to look at them getting down to 39 now. It’s possible that they felt now, right before a flurry of trades that comes from the Winter Meetings and two days before the Rule 5 Draft, was the right time to sneak someone through waivers. It’s also possible that they themselves want to take someone in the Rule 5 draft and needed to get some space for that. Then, there’s the chance that they are getting close to a deal with some free agent reliever and are clearing the spot for them. It’s probably the first one with the other two options being wishful thinking on my part, but the possibility does exist.
As for who they’re losing, Scott never had a real chance to play a role on the 2018 team. The southpaw was in the majors for a short time, making nine appearances totaling 6 2⁄3 innings, with most of that coming in September. In 2017, however, Scott spent essentially the entire season in the majors, pitching to a 3.97 ERA over 57 appearances. The 29-year-old can work very well when facing primarily left-handed hitters, but struggles if his role grows too large. There’s a place for that kind of pitcher on major-league rosters, but the Red Sox opted against having a left-handed reliever for almost all of 2018, and even if they change course moving forward they have Bobby Poyner ready now and Darwinzon Hernandez coming up soon.