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Red Sox trade Yoan Aybar to Rockies for Christian Koss

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The move opens up a 40-man roster spot.

Yoan Aybar
Kelly O’Connor; https://sittingstill.smugmug.com/

The Red Sox have made a trade, though it’s not exactly a major deal. The team announced on Thursday that they have sent left-handed pitching prospect Yoan Aybar to the Rockies in exchange for minor-league infielder Christian Koss.

The move clears a space on the 40-man roster. Aybar was added to said roster last offseason in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

The southpaw was originally signed by Boston out of the Dominican Republic back in 2013, at that time as an outfielder. His career as a position player never really got off the ground, though, and he converted to pitching in 2018. It was quickly clear that he had real potential as a reliever, showing big-time stuff, although without the refinement. That, of course, was understandable given the lack of experience.

There is still potential for Aybar, now 23, to turn into a useful major-league reliever, but he has yet to really pitch above A-ball, having thrown just five innings as high as High-A and nothing above that level. He was one of the prospects most affected by this pandemic-influenced season. There was no room for him at the Alternate Site due to his lack of experience and the glut of Quad-A pitchers added to the organization despite him holding a spot on the 40-man. And then, because he had that spot on the 40-man he was not able to pitch at Instructs. So essentially he hasn’t been able to work out with the organization since spring training. Given the current crunch for space the Red Sox are facing on the roster, Aybar was unfortunately an easy candidate to trade.

As far as the return, Koss was drafted by Colorado in the 12th round of the 2019 draft out of the University of California-Irvine. Although he was selected as a shortstop he split time between shortstop, second base and third base in his lone season of pro ball in that summer of 2019. Playing for Grand Junction in the Pioneer League, the 22-year-old (he’ll be 23 in January) hit .332/.447/.605 in 238 plate appearances. That’s an impressive stat line of course, but consider he wasn’t exactly young for the level and it is one of the best hitting environments in the minors.

Following that 2019 campaign, Baseball America wrote of Koss, “[He] profiles best as a utility infielder, an average defender at all three positions but without the range to play shortstop on a regular basis. His average arm strength plays up because of how quickly he gets rid of the ball. What impressed opposing managers the most was the energy he showed on the field, with one observer calling him an old school-type of player.”

My best guess is he’ll start 2021 in Salem.