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The 40-man roster is constantly shifting as players are added during the season. The Red Sox could find themselves in a dilemma if they add a free agent.

The 40-man roster is the landing zone for the players that the Red Sox place value upon. The roster has a pecking order the certainly runs the gamut from star quality to those with a tenuous grip on staying within the organization. Today’s hot prospect may have the roster life expectancy of a fruit fly if they don’t produce – just ask Henry Owens.

The roster has the usual suspects at the top of the roster food chain like Mookie Betts and Chris Sale that are part of the 25-man portion.  I would assume the Red Sox will not go through the procedure of having their spot vacated. As mentioned the entire package is noted as 40-man with those not on the 25-man languishing in the minors.

Often it is necessary to have a spot open. Every year this happens.  Teams usually maintain an open slot or two for that purpose or by shifting a player to the 60-day DL.  The process is explained in detail in the quote below. What is of interest is the must remove a player, but who? Now for a look at the vulnerable on the 40-man roster.

In order for a club to add a player to the 25-man roster, the player must be on the 40-man roster. If a club with a full 40-man roster wishes to promote a Minor League player that is not on the 40-man roster, it must first remove a player from the 40-man roster — either by designating a player’s contract for assignment, trading a player, releasing a player or transferring a player to the 60-day disabled list. – MLB Glossary

Brian Johnson has zero options left which means 25-man roster, trade, Designated for Assignment, or just released.  A 27-year-old lefty is a former number one draft choice and once was viewed as a middle of the rotation starter. Expect the lefty-heavy Red Sox to trade Johnson.

Once a starter with promise after going 10-12 for the Mariners in 2014 Roenis Elias could be susceptible to exclusion.  The 29-year-old lefty had fought injuries and inconsistency and may have lost the battle with both. Elias pitched for four teams in the system going 1-6 with a 6.96 ERA. A very short leash.

If Deven Marrero could only get his average up to .250 he’d probably be a regular somewhere in the majors.  Another number one draft choice who’s hitting never matched his exceptional glove work. Marrero is out of options and Boston has Tzu-Wei Lin, Marco Hernandez and Brock Holt capable of infield utility work. If Eduardo Nunez signs that could signal the end.

The last entry is Blake Swihart.  The switch-hitting catcher is now 26-years-old and out of options.  Swihart’s path to the Red Sox is blocked by Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon unless Swihart again switches positions. Unless injuries hit the two regulars expect Swihart to be moved.

The next level has three pitchers with a similar job description as relief pitchers.  All are right-handed, and all were added to the 40-man roster in 2017. Ben Taylor, Chandler Shepherd, and Ty Buttrey are not among the top ten prospects in the system but may last out 2018.  Expect all three to be in Portland (AA) or Pawtucket (AAA) during the season.

The likelihood is all will survive 2018 unless the Red Sox make significant moves. Taylor is the “star” of this group since he surfaced in Boston and appeared in 12 games, 13.1 innings and a 2.70 ERA. Pawtucket will most definitely be Taylor’s starting point for the upcoming season.

Surprise moves happen that can alter the roster landscape such as the DFA of Pablo Sandoval. Would the Red Sox eat the contract of Hanley Ramirez if HanRam is doing little? But not this season.  The Red Sox have enough dead money, so the moves will center around that mention.  Expect one or more to depart.