The deadline for teams to protect minor-league players from December’s Rule 5 Draft was on Wednesday at 8:00 PM ET, and the Red Sox went right down to the wire with their protections. We previewed this decision earlier in the week while also explaining some of the basic concepts behind the Rule 5 Draft and the protection period. At the end of that post, I predicted five players would be added to the 40-man roster by the deadline. I was correct about the number, but there was one difference in terms of the actual players. The Red Sox announced on Wednesday that the following five players would be protected: Bobby Dalbec, C.J. Chatham, Marcus Wilson, Yoan Aybar and Kyle Hart.
Red Sox add Bobby Dalbec, C.J. Chatham, Kyle Hart, Marcus Wilson and Yoan Aybar to 40-man roster.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) November 21, 2019
So, the first three names were locks or near-locks to be added to the roster. Dalbec is at least a top three prospect in the system and should hopefully be able to help at the highest level by midseason. Chatham’s ceiling isn’t quite as high, but he is on a similar timeline and can play both middle infield positions. Wilson wasn’t as consistently productive in 2019, but he fills a need with major-league ready outfield depth and showed major progress as the year went on.
The other two, both left-handed pitchers, are a bit more surprising. Aybar wasn’t a total surprise and I did have him on my list of five on Monday. A converted outfielder, Aybar isn’t quite ready for primetime just yet, but given how recently he started pitching he has moved pretty quickly into being a guy teams would theoretically poach in a Rule 5 format. The stuff is there, he just needs to figure out his command. It’s the type of profile that could feasibly come together quickly enough for a second-half call-up or fizzle enough that he’s off the 40-man roster by this time next year.
Hart is the major surprise in terms of additions. I did include him as a longshot in the linked post above, and as I pointed out there I would have put Denyi Reyes there last year as well. He, of course, was also protected. Hart is further along than Reyes was last year and will be part of the rotation depth from the start of the year. The southpaw does not have a high ceiling, but the pitchability worked very well in both Portland and Pawtucket this year and if his command is on he can be a workable, if unexciting, major-league pitcher. Chris Hatfield of Sox Prospects was the first to note Hart would be protected tonight.
The major omission here is Eduard Bazardo, who I thought was another near-lock to be protected. The righty looked very impressive in his first year of full-time relief duty, and while his small stature pushed him out of the rotation he figured to be in Triple-A to start 2020 and potentially ready for a midseason call-up if everything goes well. With him off the 40-man roster, there is a very real possibility that he is selected by someone in the Rule 5 Draft. With rosters expanding to 26 men, it will be even easier than it already was to carry a solid-but-raw reliever on the active roster.
With all of these moves, the Red Sox 40-man roster now stands at 39. As we talked about in the Rule 5 preview there are plenty of ways to make even more room on the roster, particularly with the non-tender deadline coming on December 2.