After their disastrous 2012 season, the Red Sox find themselves uncharacteristically in rebuilding mode. The big league roster has many holes to fill, some of which could be through promotions from the minor leagues.
Last season, the Sox used a team-record 56 players. No other team used more than 54 players. It was the highest number of players used in a season in the American League since the 2004 Royals used 58. The Sox also used 26 pitchers (including outfielder Darnell McDonald, who appeared in one game).
Perhaps the 2013 Sox bullpen could have used a 6-foot-6, 245-pound right-hander with a high-to-mid 90s fastball who had a 4.43 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and 14.0 strikeouts-per-nine innings with Double-A Portland this season. Then again, perhaps that pitcher needed more seasoning before he could be added to the 40-man roster. The Brewers didnt think so. Right-hander Michael Olmsted filed for free agency and was signed by the Brewers over the weekend.
Olmsted, 25, appeared in 47 games, spanning 59 13 innings, last season between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, posting a combined record of 1-4 with 19 saves and a 1.52 ERA. He struck out 92 with just 15 walks. In 14 games with Portland, he was 1-2 with three saves. In 20 innings, he gave up five runs no earned runs. He struck out 31, with seven walks and 11 hits.
Seeing a promising young player leave the organization is a scenario that could repeat itself this offseason. Along with Olmsted, 13 other Red Sox minor leaguers have filed for free agency. Additionally, the Sox face the prospect of potentially losing several players in the Rule 5 draft in December.
With David Ortiz re-signing, the Sox currently have 38 players on the 40-man roster. With numerous holes to fill first base, shortstop, left field, right field, a starting pitcher roster spots will have to be used judiciously. Recent acquisitions, right-handers David Carpenter, Rubby De La Rosa, and Sandy Rosario and outfielder Jerry Sands were all added to the 40-man. The Sox currently have 23 pitchers, two catchers, seven infielders, five outfielders, and Ortiz as the designated hitter on the 40-man.
The 13 minor league free agents are free to talk to any team, including the Sox. There is a possibility any of them could return to the organization. There is also the possibility none of them will.
Players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they are not on the 40-man roster and were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years or were signed at 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years. Those players must be added to the 40-man roster by Nov. 20. Some of the players who could be exposed to the draft if they are not added include pitchers Brock Huntzinger (currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League), Josh Fields and Steven Wright, catchers Dan Butler and Christian Vazquez (also currently in Arizona), infielder Michael Almanzar (in Arizona), and outfielders Alex Hassan and Jeremy Hazelbaker.
While it is possible, and likely, some of the players currently on the 40-man will be taken off, potentially freeing up space, it is not likely the Sox will be able to free up sufficient spots to keep all the players who could potentially leave.