The Red Sox have been churning through pitchers throughout the first couple weeks of this weird 60-game season as they try to piece together a rotation as best they can. When the season broke, Brian Johnson figured to be an early option and was even considered a favorite by many (including yours truly) to get one of the first five starts of the year. Instead, they sent him to the Alternate Site in Pawtucket and he had to await his chance. That still hasn’t come, and apparently he no longer wanted to wait. He requested his release and it was granted by the team on Monday.
Sources tell me and @SmittyOnMLB: Red Sox have granted Brian Johnson his release.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) August 10, 2020
If we’re being honest, it’s not hard to see why Johnson was getting frustrated with the Red Sox. This is a team that has been throwing a whole lot of random arms out there looking for someone to skip, and he has continuously been passed over each and every time. If he hasn’t gotten a chance yet, it’s not hard to see why he doesn’t see that chance coming anytime soon either. Obviously he wants to pitch in the majors again, and it’s becoming clear that is going to come for another organization. It’s hard to fault him for asking, and good on the Red Sox for giving him that chance.
That being said, while the Red Sox can use anybody and Johnson has had his success in the past, it’s also clear the front office just isn’t all that confident in him. Dylan Covey just got called up over him. That Johnson is out of options doesn’t help, but if they thought there was some chance at success they’d give him a shot. It’s worth mentioning Johnson pitched to a 6.02 ERA over 40 1⁄3 innings with 31 strikeouts and 23 walks last season.
On the other hand, this is certainly the end of an era for a player that has been with this organization for a long time. Johnson was a first round pick back in 2012 and a former top prospect in the organization, peaking at number five on Sox Prospects’ list on their 2015 mid-season list. He fought plenty of adversity in his time in the minors but he did get up for some solid performances in Boston, including in 2018 where he played a quietly important role as a swing man. He’ll never have it taken away that he was a key piece on what was the most successful team in franchise history. Hopefully he can find similar success elsewhere, and sooner than later.
With Johnson off the roster, the Red Sox now have 59 players on their 60-man player pool.