The Red Sox 40-man roster is back down to 38. It had gotten as high as 39 after the team added five players ahead of the Rule 5 protection deadline, but another player came off on Monday. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Red Sox have placed Brian Johnson on outright waivers.
#RedSox left-hander Brian Johnson also on outright waivers, sources tell The Athletic. With Thanksgiving holiday looming, a number of similar moves are expected today as teams address their 40-man roster in advance of the non-tender deadline on Dec. 2.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 25, 2019
Now on waivers, Johnson can be claimed by any other team in baseball, with the order going in order of worst 2019 record to best, starting with the American League then moving over to the National League. Teams have 48 hours to make claims, but the clock may have started before Rosenthal made his report. If Johnson is claimed, the other team must put him on their own 40-man roster. If he makes it through, the Red Sox can put him in the minor-league system while having him off the 40-man. You’ve probably heard of players rejecting outright assignment to the minors, but Johnson does not have this option as he has fewer than three years of service time and hasn’t been outrighted before.
The lefty has obviously been a familiar name to most for a long time now, after being drafted with a first round pick back in the 2012 draft. After moving relatively quickly through the system, Johnson had a lot of setbacks on and off the field. He has pitched in the majors for parts of four seasons, with 2018 being his best year. In 2019, Johnson finished with an ERA+ of just 80 in 40 1⁄3 innings.
With this move, the Red Sox do risk losing some of the little starting pitching depth they have in place. Without Johnson, beyond their top four the Red Sox have guys like Hector Velázquez, Mike Shawaryn, Ryan Weber and Kyle Hart as their depth currently on the 40-man roster. The latter was one of the players just added and was the biggest surprise. Given that this move with Johnson was likely in the cards when the Rule 5 protections were made, it makes more sense now.
We’ll have news before the holiday as to whether or not Johnson will remain with the organization and keep you posted when we do indeed find out.