Photo Credit: AP
The Red Sox have plenty of decisions to make as Spring Training concludes. Most of this young talent will be sent to their respective minor league club(s).
As we get closer to Opening Day, much of the Red Sox roster has fallen into place. The only competition left for the final rosters spots are those of fourth outfielder and utility infielder.
The utility position may be made temporary due to the resigning of Eduardo Nunez and improving health of Dustin Pedroia. Additionally, J.D. Martinez will likely rotate into the outfield mix – ultimately making a fourth outfielder expendable.
In a perfect world, the players that are playing the best after nearly 6 weeks of Spring Training would earn those final, coveted spots on the active Major League roster. Clearly, there are other factors such as service time accrual, player salary, and luxury-tax implications that play a part in constructing the team that will head north on Opening Day.
The Red Sox finds themselves facing a few of those factors regarding their own roster, the one exception being service time accrual, as none of their top prospects are pushing for a spot on the MLB club.
We touched on the battle for utility infielder role last week in: “Out of Options: Swihart vs Marrero”, as the team will have to expose one or both of those players to waivers if they don’t make the team – due to no remaining minor league options.
We’ll examine three intriguing players in camp who are each making a case to make the team, but are are facing pretty tough odds of doing so. However, not making the active MLB roster isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the organization, as the Red Sox seem to have some enviable depth in the case a key player goes down with injury, or poor performance makes a player replaceable.
Rusney Castillo / OF:
The now thirty-year old Castillo is still fighting to prove that he isn’t a bust and can be a useful player on a major league team. After a poor showing in 2015 and an utterly forgettable 2016, Castillo put together an All Star season in AAA last year. He’s carried that level of play into Spring Training, hitting .317 with an .819 OPS in his first 41 at-bats.
Castillo’s contract situation complicates his spot on the big league roster, but signed in the summer of 2014 as an international free agent, he’s failed to live up to the expectations. While showing this spring and last year that he may be capable of being a productive MLB player, the luxury tax penalties that were put in place during the last CBA make it hard for the team to carry Castillo’s $11M annual salary on the roster.
With more established outfielders like Carlos Gomez and Carlos Gonzalez signing for less than $5M per year as free agents, it’ll be hard for the Red Sox to find any takers for Castillo on the trade market.
With the Sox possessing cap space, it is likely that Castillo will continue to rack up solid numbers in Pawtucket.
Esteban Quiroz / 2B:
Each of the previously mentioned candidates come with issues of their own, most notably injury history or the inability to produce consistently with the bat. Quiroz hasn’t shown much offensively in limited playing time this spring (.158 BA / 1HR & 5RBI in 19AB’s), he was a career .293 hitter with an .853 OPS over six full seasons in the Mexican League.
With the recent injury history attached to Dustin Pedroia, Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt, Quiroz may see meaningful at-bats with the big league club in 2018.
Steve Selsky / OF:
Like Quiroz, Selsky hasn’t exactly put the Red Sox in a position to make any difficult roster decisions with his performance at the plate this spring. He’s hitting a mere .136 with a .336 OPS in his first 22 AB’s.
In 60 career AB’s between Cincinnati and Boston he’s put up a respectable .283 BA with a .740 OPS, while playing all over the outfield and logging some time at third base.
Selsky is still just 28 years old and if he can manage to hit like he has throughout his minor league career at Pawtucket in 2018, he could find himself logging some time in Boston, especially considering the luxury tax implications that surround adding Rusney Castillo to the roster.
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Minor League Wrap Up
There are others, like career minor leaguers Ivan De Jesus and Mike Olt that are near locks to be sent back down. Top prospect, Michael Chavis, may very well continue his ascension toward a big league call-up.
It is not likely that we see Chavis this season, but if injuries plague the Red Sox it is possible that we see a Rafael Devers-type situation.
Will any of them make it to Boston this season?
Comment your choice below!