Friday was the deadline for teams to add minor-league players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in said draft. As has become custom for the Red Sox, they waited until the absolute last second. I’m definitely not mad about it! Anyway, you don’t care about that. Presumably, though, you do care about the actual moves they did make. Earlier this morning we highlighted that it was likely to be a busy day with multiple players having to be moved off in order to make room for at least six players with a seventh possible as well.
As it turns out, they did indeed protect the following seven minor-league players: Bryan Mata, Jay Groome, Connor Wong, Jeisson Rosario, Connor Seabold, Hudson Potts and Eduard Bazardo. With the 40-man roster standing at 36 players prior to all of this, simple math tells us they needed to cut three players to make room for the additions. Those three players were Kyle Hart, who was outrighted to Triple-A, and Matt Hall and Ryan Weber, both of whom have been designated for assignment. The full list of moves can be seen below. And just to catch up on credit, Chris Cotillo had the Hart, Hall, Weber, and Seabold news first while Christopher Smith had Groome and Bazardo.
The seven names are not a huge surprise, particularly the first six listed above. Mata is the top prospect among these players, and Groome joins him as a near-consensus top ten prospect in the organization. Those two, along with Seabold, are projected as potential starters at the highest level, with Mata and Seabold potentially being ready for their debut as soon as next season, with the latter being more likely to be up in 2021. Groome is likely at least another year away from that.
On the position player side of things, Wong, Potts and Rosario are all generally ranked around the 10-15 or 20 range in the organization. The first two can play multiple positions — Wong is a catcher but also plays on the infield some while Potts can profile at either infield corner as well as maybe some second base — while Rosario is an athletic center fielder. Wong and Potts could debut in 2020 while Rosario, like Groome, is likely a year off that path.
Bazardo is the name who stands out here, as the other six have been seen as locks since the middle of this summer. Bazardo, however, was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft last year as well and went both unprotected and unselected in the actual draft. After not being invited to the Alternate Site this year either, he was a little written off on the Rule 5 front. However, as was first reported by Ian Cundall over at Sox Prospects, he impressed enough at instructs that the Red Sox did indeed decide to protect him this time around. Bazardo is a pure reliever who likely doesn’t have back-of-the-bullpen upside but certainly has a profile to stick in a middle relief role for a long time and could get that chance at some point next season.
As far as the players coming off the roster, Hart and Hall are no real surprises. The former was a Rule 5 protection last year but struggled mightily in his brief chance this summer before an injury ended his season prematurely. Hall was a cheap pick up before the season who was arguably the worst pitcher on a very bad pitching staff. The Weber one surprised me a bit as he seemed like a good long relief, emergency starter option and he had a minor-league option remaining as well. That said, he was arbitration-eligible this winter so this indicates he was a likely non-tender anyway. Despite my surprise, it’s not as though it should be too difficult to find a replacement for that potential role.
With all of this dust settled, the Red Sox now have a full 40-man, but given the number of holes that still need to be plugged expect the cuts on the bottom of the roster to continue.