With additions of Kenley Jansen and Masataka Yoshida looming, Red Sox face possible roster crunch

The Red Sox will be facing a roster crunch of sorts in the coming days after a busy week at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

After officially signing veteran reliever Chris Martin to a two-year, $17.5 million contract on Thursday, Boston’s 40-man roster is now at full capacity. Earlier this week, the Sox reportedly agreed to a two-year, $32 million deal with closer Kenley Jansen and a record-setting five-year, $90 million deal with Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

Once the signings of Jansen and Yoshida become official, the Red Sox will need to create two spots on their 40-man roster in order to accommodate those two additions. How they plan on doing that remains unclear.

So far this month, Boston has already outrighted catcher Ronaldo Hernandez off the 40-man roster, which paved the way for Martin to be added on Thursday. It’s possible that other players towards the end of the 40-man — like Hernandez was — could be on the chopping block as well.

Bobby Dalbec, for instance, came up in trade talks this week. On Monday, Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam reported that the Red Sox “have told teams that Dalbec is available” and that the Rays were one of the teams “which has expressed some interest.”

That Dalbec has been made available is not all that surprising. The 27-year-old slugger struggled to the tune of a .215/.283/.369 slash line with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs in 117 games this season while grading as a poor defender at first base. He was sent down to Worcester when top prospect Triston Casas was called up in September and is squarely behind him and Eric Hosmer on Boston’s first-base depth chart.

Dalbec, who turns 28 next June, is just one year removed from a 25-homer season in which he produced a 106 wRC+. The former fourth-round draft pick also does not become eligible for salary arbitration until 2024 and has two minor-league options remaining. The Red Sox are probably not asking for much in return for Dalbec, who came up through the minor-leagues as a third baseman, though they could potentially land an unheralded prospect for him who is more of a lottery ticket than anything.

Boston recently parted ways with a similar type of prospect when it acquired infielder/outfielder Hoy Park from the Pirates late last month. Park, who had just been designated for assignment by Pittsburgh, cost the Red Sox right-hander Inmer Lobo, who was signed for $10,000 out of Venezuela back in January.

Park, 27 in April, could be in limbo with his new club the same way he was in with the Pirates. The South Korea native broke in with the Yankees last July and has since batted .201/.291/.346 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 68 games between New York and Pittsburgh. He, like Dalbec, has two minor-league options remaining but also comes with more years of control since he does not become arbitration-eligible until 2026.

Dalbec and Park represent just two possibilities for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when it comes to trimming down the size of the Sox’ 40-man roster. Relievers Ryan Brasier and Darwinzon Hernandez were each tendered contracts last month but are coming off disappointing 2022 seasons. Jeter Downs, the top prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade, made his major-league debut in June but looked outmatched at times at the plate. The same can be said for outfielder Jarren Duran.

Hosmer opted in to the final three years and $39 million of his contract in early November. The Red Sox, however, only owe the 33-year-old the league minimum over the next three seasons after acquiring him from the Padres at the trade deadline. Since Hosmer has a no-trade clause and therefore has the right to reject a move to another team, Boston could elect to simply designate him for assignment or outright release him if all else fails.

All told, the Red Sox will have some interesting — and maybe even difficult — decisions to make in the coming days as they introduce Jansen and Yoshida to the organization.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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