Before opening a pivotal four-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Monday night, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves.
First off, relievers Martin Perez and Matt Barnes were both placed on the COVID-19 related injured list.
Secondly, right-handed reliever Phillips Valdez was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, while fellow righty Raynel Espinal had his contract selected from Worcester, the club announced earlier Monday evening.
Perez and Barnes become the the third and fourth Red Sox players to head to the COVID-related injured list within the last three days, as they join the likes of infielder/outfielder Enrique Hernandez and infielder Christian Arroyo, who tested positive on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose also tested positive on Sunday.
Perez, who opened the 2021 season in Boston’s starting rotation but was demoted to the bullpen earlier this month, tested positive for the virus on Monday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith).
“We found out not too long ago,” Cora said. “So we’re going through the process, through protocol, close contact, people getting tested and everything else.”
On that note, MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports that Barnes has indeed tested positive for COVID-19, meaning he will be forced into a mandatory quarantine and miss the next 10 days despite being vaccinated against the virus.
Regardless of his vaccination status, though, the All-Star closer will head to the COVID-related IL for a second time this season after spending one day there earlier this month.
With both Perez and Barnes out of action for the time being, the Sox have added two right-handed hurlers from Worcester in the form of Valdez and Espinal.
Valdez, 29, is back up with Boston for the third time this year after he was most recently sent down to the WooSox on August 12.
Espinal, meanwhile, was able to be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster without a corresponding move being made since players on the COVID-related injured list do not count against the 40-man.
Originally acquired from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft, the 29-year-old out of the Dominican Republic has had a solid season for himself as a member of Worcester’s starting rotation.
In 18 appearances (16 starts) with the WooSox so far this year, Espinal has posted a 3.74 ERA and 4.09 FIP to go along with 89 strikeouts to 36 walks over 91 1/3 total innings of work.
Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Espinal — who is up at the major-league level for the first time in his professional career — operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 91-93 mph fastball, an 83-86 mph slider, an 82-84 mph changeup, and a 77-79 mph curveball.
In addition to Espinal, who will wear the No. 80, and Valdez being added to the big-league roster, the Red Sox seem likely to activate recently-acquired right-hander Brad Peacock on Tuesday. We will have to wait and see on that.
(Picture of Matt Barnes: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)