By Jeff Louderback
Faced with a crunch for 40-man roster space, the Red Sox added six players to the roster to protect them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. To make room, five names were dropped from the 40-man roster and designated for assignment.
Right-handed pitchers Steven Wright, Allen Webster and Alex Wilson; catchers Dan Butler and Christian Vazquez; and outfielder Alex Hassan were placed on the 40-man roster while third baseman Danny Valencia; infielder Ivan De Jesus; and pitchers Zach Stewart, Sandy Rosario and David Carpenter were removed and designated for assignment.
Among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, the 22-year-old Webster will likely open the 2013 campaign at Triple-A Pawtucket. Projected as a No. 3 starter at the Major League level, Webster primarily relies upon an effective sinker.
A second round pick out of Texas A&M in 2009, the 26-year-old Wilson was converted into a full-time reliever in 2012 and was dominant for Pawtucket in the postseason. He is a potential closer or set-up man and will be given a chance in spring training to make Boston’s opening day roster.
Hassan was the most surprising addition to the 40-man roster. The 24-year-old right-handed hitting outfielder is from Milton, Mass. and features the plate discipline that the Red Sox covet. He is not considered a top prospect, though, like Bryce Brentz, Jackie Bradley, Brandon Jacobs and even Ryan Kalish.
The 28-year-old Wright provides the Red Sox with their own potential R.A. Dickey story. As detailed in this BoSox Banter story in September, Wright throws a hard knuckler and boasts a fastball that can reach the high 80s. He has only thrown the knuckleball for two years and gives the club starting pitching depth. Wright will likely join Webster in the Pawtucket rotation to open the 2013 season.
Vazquez and Butler were wise additions to the 40-man roster because of their reputation as solid defensive catchers and game callers. They project as backups at the Major League level and one or the other could eventually serve as the backup to top prospect Blake Swihart, who is considered Boston’s starting catcher of the future.
Since they now have five catchers on the 40-man roster with the additions of Butler and Vazquez, the Red Sox will likely move forward with trading Jarrod Saltalamacchia this offseason.
All six players added to the 40-man roster are considered prospects who have a chance to contribute at the Major League level. Most of the six names designated for assignment are fringe Major Leaguers who are best suited as depth at the Triple A level. De Jesus, who the Red Sox acquired in last summer’s blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was a surprise deletion from the 40-man roster. The Red Sox likely view Pedro Ciriaco as a better utility infielder, making De Jesus expendable.
The 40-man roster will remain a work in progress leading up to opening day. The Red Sox have re-signed David Ortiz and inked catcher David Ross to a deal. They are also reportedly nearing an agreement with outfielder Jonny Gomes, which would require a corresponding 40-man roster move.