The Red Sox made their latest round of roster cuts prior to Sunday’s game against the Twins as they close in on the regular season. We are now less than three weeks away. This is the second round of cuts from the team, with this one being much more substantial than the last one. Boston optioned or re-assigned a total of 15 players off the roster, including some top prospects and some who were seemingly in competition for the Opening Day roster. The difference between optioning and re-assigning, for anyone wondering, simply comes down to whether or not a player is on the 40-man roster. Also remember, just because they are off the roster doesn’t mean it is the last we will see of them this spring.
Chris Cotillo has the list below, and we’ll quickly run through the names after that.
Red Sox cut 15 players from camp.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) March 8, 2020
Baldwin, Wong, Downs, Ockimey, Alvarez, Hildenberger, Houck, Kickham to minor league camp
Dalbec, Chatham, Hart, Shawaryn, Valdez optioned to AAA. Wilson to AA. Aybar to High-A.
- Roldani Baldwin was really just catcher depth for the Red Sox, but he’s an interesting name to watch in 2020. After missing almost all of 2019 he’s kind of fallen off the radar, but there’s potential for a bat-first backup a couple years down the road.
- Connor Wong came back in the Mookie Betts deal, and had some solid moments in camp. Like Baldwin, he is not really a major-league factor this year but could be in 2021 at some point.
- Jeter Downs is the top prospect in the organization by most evaluator’s rankings, and got some experience against major-league pitching the last couple of weeks. He’s going to join Wong in Portland this year, though, and unless everything goes perfectly this year his debut is more likely to come in 2021.
- Josh Ockimey has kind of stalled out in Pawtucket the last couple of years, waiting for his moment to come back up. His lack of defensive value and inability to hit lefties hurts his value, but an injury or two could open up a role for him in the majors in 2020.
- RJ Alvarez was a minor-league signing this past winter but was not really a candidate for the big-league bullpen. He’ll likely just serve as emergency depth unless he gets off to a hot start in Triple-A.
- Trevor Hildenberger was a more exciting minor-league signing given his track record in the majors from a few years ago. However, he hasn’t shown much in camp and will have to spend some time proving himself in Pawtucket if he’s going to get a chance in the minors.
- Tanner Houck was getting some buzz at points in spring, and for good reason. There are some who want to see him in the rotation to start the year, but the Red Sox are making the right call here. He needs to work on his command as well as his approach against lefties if he’s going to help the big-league rotation, and the majors is not the place to do that. I still think he helps more as a reliever regardless.
- Mike Kickham was another minor-league signing who is more emergency depth than a legitimate major-league option, at least at this point on the calendar.
- Bobby Dalbec is probably the biggest name among the cuts, factoring in likelihood to help in 2020 with pure talent level. There have been points where he looked like a legitimate Opening Day candidate, but the Mitch Moreland signing pushed that time back. He’ll get his chance at some point, though, and likely sooner than later. Like Michael Chavis last year, Dalbec will get a chance to stick as long as he plays well, too.
- C.J. Chatham, like Dalbec, had some shot at making the Opening Day roster but it makes sense to hold him back for depth and let him get rolling in the minors. The infield competition really comes down to Tzu-Wei Lin, Jonathan Araúz and Marco Hernández at this point.
- Kyle Hart is an interesting name to watch for this year despite his low ceiling since he’s on the 40-man and the Red Sox obviously need all the help they can get on the rotation depth front. He was always a longshot to get his first chance right out of camp, though.
- Mike Shawaryn’s demotion surprises me a bit, not so much because I think he’s one of the 13 best pitchers on the roster but because he has performed decently this spring and has the ability to serve as a long man out of the bullpen. He’ll be an up and down arm this year, most likely.
- Just replace Shawaryn’s name in the blurb above with Phillips Valdez. Same situation, same surprise. I probably thought Valdez had a better shot.
- Marcus Wilson had talent, plays a position without a whole lot of upper-level depth is on the 40-man, but he needs more polishing before he can be trusted in the majors. The hope is likely that he has a good start in Portland and moves along quickly from there.
- Yoan Aybar is a fascinating arm to watch this year, but it was never going to be in the majors unless he’s really lights out and works his way up for the end of the year. He’s a name to watch more for 2021.