On Thursday, we talked about Boston’s roster and the open spots on the 40-man. Depending on what happens with the catching situation, the team could have as many as three open spots heading into 2019, and while there is no reason to fill them up just for the sake of doing so it does give them flexibility. Specifically, it gives them flexibility to be active at the end of this month. Every year towards the end of camp, there is a flurry of activity on the waiver wire and in free agency. As teams make their final cuts, players without options who don’t make the final roster are placed on waivers and players who signed minor-league deals who couldn’t crack the Opening Day roster can often opt-out and get back to free agency. The Red Sox aren’t the only team who can be active on these markets, of course, but they are afforded an opportunity to be aggressive if there are players they like.
Now, it should be mentioned that the information regarding end-of-camp opt-outs can be sparse. We don’t always know whether or not a player has an opt-out, never mind when it is. So, some of the players listed here may not actually be available. With that out of the way, here is a full list of players who could be available on waivers or after opting out at the end of this month. To find these players, I used Roster Resource and looked at players either in the final bullpen spot or off the major-league roster altogether who were either minor-league signings or are on the 40-man and out of minor-league options. Below are five of my favorite names who could potentially be available.
Alex Wilson, Indians
We start with an old friend, and one of the most surprising minor-league signings of the winter. The former Tigers righty, and former Red Sox pitcher before being traded as part of the package that returned Rick Porcello, doesn’t have a huge ceiling but has been a solid reliever for years now. Wilson has pitched at least 60 innings in each of the last four years and he’s pitched to an ERA under 4.00 in three of them and an ERA under 3.00 in two. Although he won’t miss many bats, he has good control and generally allows weak contact. It seems he should have a solid chance at making the Opening Day roster, but Cleveland has a lot of midlevel righties who are out of minor-league options that are competing for a spot. Roster Resource projects Wilson to miss the cut. If that’s the case, the Red Sox should be all over this one.
Luis Garcia & Noe Ramirez, Angles
We have another old friend here with a pair of relievers who are on the 40-man roster in Los Angeles but on the bubble for an Opening Day roster spot. Both righties are out of options, and while Roster Resource does project both to make the roster, but they also project an eight-man bullpen. That may not be sustainable for too long, in which case one of these guys could be available. Garcia has spent his career to this point with the Phillies before being traded to the Angels this winter and has a good strikeout/grounder combination. Ramirez, meanwhile, is a former Red Sox fringe roster player who is coming off a good season with the Angels with over ten strikeouts per nine innings. I’m not sure how realistic it is that either of these guys will hit waivers or be available in a trade, but it’s a situation to watch over the next couple of weeks.
Daniel Coulombe, Yankees
We get back to another minor-league signing and another player for whom it is not totally clear whether or not he has an opt-out at the end of camp. If he does, it’s likely he takes it because the Yankees don’t exactly have a bullpen that looks easy to crack. Coulombe had been with the Athletics for most of his career before this season, though he was designated for assignment late last year after a rough stretch. Still, the lefty has been average-or-better by DRA in each of the last three years and masks some control issues with big swing-and-miss stuff and an elite ground ball rate. It appears he’s on the outside looking in on a loaded portion of New York’s depth chart, and he’d have a much clearer path to the majors with the Red Sox. If he does get a chance to hit the market again, the Red Sox should see it as a chance to add a good, cheap lefty.
Juan Nicasio, Phillies
Nicasio is an interesting one, and whether or not he gets to waivers or beyond will depend on what the Phillies prioritize to start the year. The righty, who came over in the Jean Segura deal, is currently projected by Roster Resource to man the final spot in Philly’s bullpen. However, he is blocking some good, younger relievers like Victor Arano and James Pazos, among others. I would think Nicasio is going to get this spot, as he was much better than his 6.00 ERA last year would indicate. If the Phillies prioritize depth like Boston often does, he’ll certainly make the cut. However, if they want to go with guys they know and/or youth and upside, Nicasio has a real chance of missing out and hitting waivers. I’d bet against it, but he’ll be a popular target and likely need to be acquired in a trade if he does indeed make it that far.
Nick Vincent, Trevot Gott & Steven Okert; Giants
In terms of roster decisions and pitchers potentially becoming available at the end of camp, there is no team more interesting to watch than the Giants. San Francisco has built a bunch of midlevel depth in their bullpen, and that will leave them with some decisions. I mentioned Wilson about as one of the most surprising minor-league signings this winter, but Vincent was the most surprising. Roster Resource projects him to finish off the Opening Day roster, but I don’t see that happening. If he does, there will be a real competition for his services, in which the Red Sox should be active. Gott and Okert are also projected to finish off the roster, and both would have to be exposed to waivers if they do miss out. Gott hasn’t really made a major-league impact in his career, but he’s shown solid strikeout/groundball abilities in the minors. Okert, meanwhile, struggled in his one extended stay in the majors but like Gott has looked good in the minors. At least one of this trio will be on the outside looking in by the time Opening Day rolls around.