Red Sox officially sign Michael Wacha to one-year deal; veteran right-hander will earn $7 million in 2022

The Red Sox have officially signed free agent right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year contract for the 2022 season, the club announced earlier Saturday morning.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported on Friday that the two sides were finalizing a contract that was pending a physical, which Wacha has since passed.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the one-year deal is worth $7 million in value and does not include any options or incentives. The $7 million Wacha will earn in 2022 represents a significant raise from the $3 million he received with the Mets in 2020 and Rays in 2021.

This past season with Tampa Bay, the 30-year-old posted an unspectacular 5.05 ERA and 4.47 FIP to go along with 121 strikeouts to 31 walks over 29 appearances (23 starts) spanning 124 2/3 innings of work.

While Wacha may have struggled at times this year, he did put up a respectable 3.91 xFIP and career-best chase rate of 32.6%, which ranked in the 92nd percentile among major-league pitchers according to Baseball Savant.

From August 28 through the end of the regular season, Wacha appeared in seven games and made a total of six starts for the Rays. In that stretch, he pitched to the tune of a 2.88 ERA and 3.29 FIP while limiting opponents to a .167/.217/.300 slash line against and striking out 27.9% of the batters he faced.

For most of the 2021 campaign, Wacha had relied on his cutter as one of his most frequently-used pitches. But it got hit hard, so he ditched it later on the year in favor of throwing more four-seam fastballs (his primary pitch) and changeups as well as slightly more curveballs and sinkers.

Via Baseball Savant

A former first-round draft selection of the Cardinals out of Texas A&M University in 2012, Wacha spent the first seven years of his big-league career in St. Louis. The 6-foot-6, 215 pound righty was named MVP of the National League Championship Series in 2013 and earned his first and only All-Star selection to date in 2015.

After making more than 150 starts in a Cardinals uniform, Wacha inked a one-year pact with the Mets and spent the compressed 2020 season in Queens before joining the Rays on another one-year deal.

With the Red Sox, Wacha, who turns 31 next July, is now on his third team in three seasons. As of now, the veteran hurler is slated to join a starting rotation in Boston that includes the likes of Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, and Nick Pivetta with Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock in the mix as well.

That being said, Speier reports that when the offseason began, the Red Sox “intended to add starting pitching depth, and will continue to explore ways of doing so by both trade and free agency.”

Wacha does, however, have experience working out of the bullpen, and so the Sox could elect to have him undertake a multi-inning reliever role if they feel that is where he would best be used to start things out in 2022.

On another note, Wacha — who is represented by CAA Sports — will wear the No. 52 with the Red Sox.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign right-hander Michael Wacha to one-year deal

UPDATE: It’s a straight one-year, $7 million deal with no incentives, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The deal is also now official.

The Red Sox are in the process of finalizing a one-year contract with free agent right-hander Michael Wacha, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal is still pending a physical.

Wacha, 30, spent the 2021 season with the Rays, posting a 5.05 ERA and 4.47 FIP to go along with 121 strikeouts to 31 walks over 29 appearances (23 starts) spanning 124 2/3 innings of work.

Boston was known to be in the market for starting pitching help after Eduardo Rodriguez left to sign a five-year deal with the Tigers earlier this month. And Wacha, as Passan points out, is expected to provide the Sox with experienced rotation depth.

While his ERA this year was north of five, Wacha did put up a much more respectable 3.91 xFIP and 4.00 SIERA during his time with Tampa Bay, and he did so while producing a career-best chase rate of 32.6%.

A former first-round pick of the Cardinals out of Texas A&M University in 2012, Wacha established himself as one of the better starters in the National League in his tenure with St. Louis, earning National League Championship Series MVP honors in 2013 and an All-Star nod in 2015.

Since leaving the Cardinals at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign, the 6-foot-6, 215 pound righty will now be joining his third team in three years after spending 2020 with the Mets and 2021 with the Rays.

Per Baseball Savant, Wacha operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, changeup, cutter, curveball, and sinker. His changeup may just be his best pitch, as opponents only batted .207 off it this season.

A client of CAA Sports, Wacha does not turn 31 until next July and figures to compete for a spot in Boston’s starting rotation by the time the Red Sox report to spring training in February.

That said, Wacha does have some experience as a reliever as well, so it would not be a surprise if chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. view the veteran hurler as someone who could start and pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen when needed.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Are Red Sox open to reunion with Rich Hill?

The Red Sox appear open to a reunion with free agent left-hander Rich Hill, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

In a recent conversation with Speier, Hill “suggested that he’s been in touch with members of the Red Sox this offseason, just as he was as a free agent last offseason.”

While noting that these conversations have mainly been social exchanges, Hill did hint that the Sox do seem interested in his services.

“There is an interest, without a doubt,” Hill said. “There’s a need on the other end. [But] the need for starting pitching is very apparent throughout the league — not just in Boston. It’s also many other clubs that need it.”

Hill, 41, became a free agent earlier this month after splitting the 2021 season with the Rays and Mets. He posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.34 FIP with 150 strikeouts and 55 walks over 32 appearances (31 starts) and 158 2/3 innings pitched between both clubs.

As noted by Speier, this marked Hill’s healthiest season since he was a member of the Cubs in 2007, which had been the last time he eclipsed the 150-inning plateau prior to this year.

A native of Milton, Mass., Hill has spent parts of four big-league seasons with the Red Sox, with his most-recent stint with the team coming in 2015. To date, he has signed with Boston as a free agent on six separate occasions (June 2010, December 2010, December 2011, February 2014, March 2014, August 2015).

By Opening Day next spring, Hill will have turned 42 years old. Still, the veteran lefty expects to pitch in the majors in 2022 and wants to do so for a contender.

But Hill, who still lives in Milton, also expressed interest in living closer to home, making it seem as though the Red Sox would be at the top of his destination wish list for that very reason.

“The Red Sox do things right,” said Hill. “I’ve been around 14 organizations. If I tell you that they’re in the upper echelon, they’re doing pretty good.”

Along those same lines, the Red Sox find themselves in need of starting rotation help this winter after Eduardo Rodriguez left in free agency to ink a five-year, $77 million contract with the Tigers.

Hill, who is preparing to embark upon his 18th major-league season, would not command the sort of pay day other free agent starters — such as Robbie Ray, Marcus Stroman, or Kevin Gausman — are seeking.

Last winter, the Sox were in talks to bring Hill back for the 2021 campaign, though those conversations dissipated once chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. brought in Martin Perez and Garrett Richards by early February.

Shortly thereafter, the University of Michigan product signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Rays, thus closing the door on any shot of a reunion with his hometown team.

This time around, however, a reunion could take place if the Red Sox believe Hill can contribute as a starter in 2022 and Hill, in turn, feels like the Red Sox give him the best chance to win a World Series ring.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox among several teams interested in free agent right-hander Marcus Stroman, per report

The Red Sox are one of several teams interested in free agent right-hander Marcus Stroman, according to MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes.

Per Dierkes, the Sox join the Angels, Cubs, Giants, and Mets as clubs who have expressed interest in Stroman. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi adds that the Mariners are viewed as a potential suitor as well.

Stroman, 30, is one of the top arms remaining on an open market that has seen several intriguing starters — such as Justin Verlander, Anthony DeSclafani, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Steven Matz — come off the board in recent weeks.

After getting traded from the Blue Jays to the Mets in July 2019 and opting out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stroman enjoyed a great deal of success in his first full campaign in his home state of New York in 2021.

In 33 starts for the Mets, the Duke University product posted a 3.02 ERA and 3.49 FIP to go along with 158 strikeouts to 44 walks over 179 innings of work.

Among qualified starters this year, Stroman ranked ninth in ERA, 17th in FIP, 13th in xFIP (3.57), and 23rd in fWAR (3.4), per FanGraphs. His pitch arsenal consists of a sinker, slider, splitter, cutter, four-seam fastball and curveball and he is known for his ability to induce ground balls.

At the conclusion of the 2020 season, Stroman was extended a one-year qualifying offer by the Mets and he accepted it, thus prolonging his free agency to this offseason.

Since he was already extended a qualifying offer once, Stroman does not have any sort of draft pick compensation attached to him this winter, meaning any interested club could sign the righty without having to forfeit a draft selection.

Combine this with the kind of year he is coming off of, and it’s easy to see why someone such as Stroman is an appealing target to teams in need of starting pitching like the Red Sox are.

After watching Rodriguez leave to sign a five-year deal with the Tigers and Matz choose to sign a four-year pact with the Cardinals within the last two weeks, Boston remains locked in on upgrading its starting rotation going into 2022.

“We don’t have anything teed up that I would say is close but we’re very active in conversations with a few different guys,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said on Monday. “We’ve touched base with a wide variety of players. Just about everybody who is on the market and it’s gotten more serious and more involved with some of them.

“I don’t know right now if that’s going to lead to anything or when,” he added. “I think by the time the offseason is over, we will have added pitching of various sorts, including starting pitching. I think that’s something that’s a clear goal of ours. But who that’s going to be or when, I don’t know yet.”

Stroman, who turns 31 next May, would likely not come cheap. MLB Trade Rumors projects that the 5-foot-7, 180 pound hurler will land a five-year, $110 million contract in free agency.

Also of note here is that Stroman does have some history with Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Going back to the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Cora — Team Puerto Rico’s general manager — attempted to recruit Stroman (whose mother is of Puerto Rican descent) to join his team. Stroman instead chose to play for Team USA and was later named the tournament’s most valuable player.

(Picture of Marcus Stroman: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford tosses 3 strong innings in final Dominican Winter League start

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford’s contract with Estrellas Orientales of the Dominican Winter League has expired, the club announced Wednesday morning.

Crawford, 25, made five starts for Estrellas, with his final outing coming against Tigres del Licey at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo on Tuesday night.

Over three innings of work, the right-hander yielded just one unearned run on three hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night. He retired nine of the 15 batters he faced, worked around a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the second, and finished with a final pitch count of 65 — 37 of which went for strikes.

Estrellas topped Tigres by a final score of 3-2 to improve to 13-8 on the season.

In his five Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana starts, Crawford wound up posting a 0.42 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while recording 23 strikeouts and eight walks across 21 1/3 innings pitched.

As for why Crawford’s contract expired when the LIDOM regular season runs through December, SoxProspects.com’s executive editor Chris Hatfield suggests that the righty hit an innings limit set by the Red Sox on Tuesday.

The Red Sox added Crawford — as well as three other players — to their 40-man roster last Friday in order to protect them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2019 and missing all of 2020 as a result, Crawford opened the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland and earned a promotion to Triple-A Worcester in late July.

In the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak in early September, the Red Sox selected Crawford’s contract from Worcester so that he could start in place of Nick Pivetta against the Guardians at Fenway Park on Sept. 5.

While he got shelled for five runs over two innings in his major-league debut, the Red Sox were still encouraged with what they saw from Crawford, who displayed a five-pitch mix that consisted of a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup.

Because he was added to Boston’s big-league roster for COVID-19-related purposes, the Sox were able to remove Crawford from the 40-man without exposing him to waivers, thus allowing him to close out the year in Worcester.

Now that he is back in the fold, Crawford, who turns 26 in April, figures to make his return to the majors at some point in 2022. Whether the former 2017 16th-round draft pick out of Florida Gulf Coast University makes his impact felt as a starter or reliever has yet to be determined.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Estrellas Orientales/Twitter)

Red Sox ‘made competitive offer’ to Steven Matz before lefty reached agreement with Cardinals, per report

The Red Sox have lost out on Steven Matz, as the free agent left-hander has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with the Cardinals that includes an additional $4 million in potential incentives, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

While Boston may have come up short in the bidding war for Matz, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reports that the Sox were “involved in the sweepstakes for the lefty until the bitter end” and “made a competitive offer” before he ultimately chose the Cardinals.

After a down 2020 season with the Mets, Matz was dealt to the Blue Jays in January and flourished in his first year with Toronto. In 29 starts for the Jays, the 30-year-old southpaw posted a 3.82 ERA and 3.79 FIP to go along with 144 strikeouts to 43 walks over 150 2/3 innings pitched in 2021.

Because of the strong season he had, as well as the fact that he was not extended a qualifying offer, Matz drew plenty of interest on the open market. Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Angels, Blue Jays, Cubs, Giants, Mets, and Tigers — in addition to the Cardinals and Red Sox — all made offers to Matz.

With Matz ultimately landing in St. Louis, though, Boston will have to look elsewhere when it comes to filling the void in their starting rotation left behind by Eduardo Rodriguez, who signed a five-year, $77 million deal with Detroit last week.

When speaking with reporters (including Cotillo) earlier this week, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom discussed just how involved the club has been in free agency as notable starters such as Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman, and Robbie Ray remain unsigned.

“We don’t have anything teed up that I would say is close but we’re very active in conversations with a few different guys,” Bloom said. “We’ve touched base with a wide variety of players. Just about everybody who is on the market and it’s gotten more serious and more involved with some of them.

“I don’t know right now if that’s going to lead to anything or when,” he added. “I think by the time the offseason is over, we will have added pitching of various sorts, including starting pitching. I think that’s something that’s a clear goal of ours. But who that’s going to be or when, I don’t know yet.”

It is also worth mentioning that the Sox may be more aggressive when it comes to pursuing free agents or potential trade targets in the coming days since the collective bargaining agreement expires next Wednesday and will likely trigger a work stoppage.

(Picture of Steven Matz: Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Rafael Devers named to All-MLB Second Team

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers was named to the 2021 All-MLB Second Team on Tuesday night, as revealed on MLB Network.

Devers was originally one of six Red Sox players selected as a finalist for the third annual All-MLB team earlier this month, joining teammates Xander Bogaerts, Kyle Schwarber, Enrique Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, and Garrett Whitlock.

While the other five were unable to land on one of the two All-MLB squads, Devers was recognized as the second team’s starting third baseman after Braves third baseman Austin Riley received first-team honors.

For Devers, this marks the first time in which he has been selected to an All-MLB team since the concept was introduced in 2019 to “give a more comprehensive honor that covered the full breadth of a big league season, complementing the All-Star Game selections that are awarded just past the season’s halfway point.” Voting was conducted by both fans and a panel of experts.

Being named to the 2021 All-MLB Second Team is not all Devers has accomplished this off-season, as he also took home his first career Silver Slugger Award and finished 11th in American League Most Valuable Player voting.

A first-time All-Star in 2021, the 25-year-old slashed .279/.352/.538 to go along with 37 doubles, one triple, a career-high 38 home runs, 113 RBIs, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

Among qualified big-league third basemen this year, the left-handed hitting Devers ranked first in home runs, first in RBIs, second in runs scored, second in isolated power (.259), second in batting average, seventh in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, second in wOBA (.373), third in wRC+ (134), and second in fWAR (4.7), per FanGraphs.

Heading into the winter, Devers is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $11.1 million in 2022, which is a significant raise from the $4.575 he made this season.

With Devers under club control for the next two years, it is worth mentioning that his fellow infield partner in Bogaerts can opt out of the final three years of his contract at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.

Taking those two situations into consideration, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was asked on Monday about where things stand in regards to extension talks with Bogaerts and Devers.

“As always with any type of contract talks with players in-house, we wouldn’t comment unless and until there’s something to announce,” Bloom said. “But you know where we stand on both guys. They are critical, critical parts of our organization. Huge parts of past success here and hopefully parts of future success for a long time.”

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Latest on Red Sox’ pursuit of Steven Matz, who is expected to pick new team by Wednesday

Happy Steven Matz Decision Day Eve?

Matz, one of the more intriguing free agent starting pitchers on the market, is expected to make a decision on where he will sign before Thanksgiving, with The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reporting that the left-hander will pick his team by Wednesday “so that he can finalize the deal before the anticipated lockout.”

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Red Sox are one of eight teams who have made a contract offer to Matz, joining the likes of the Angels, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Mets, and Tigers.

A native of Long Island, the 30-year-old southpaw spent the first six years of his major-league career with the Mets before getting traded and spending the 2021 season with the Blue Jays.

After being limited to just nine appearances (six starts) in a lost 2020, Matz bounced back in a big way with the Jays in 2021. Over 29 starts, the lefty posted a 3.82 ERA and 3.79 FIP to go along with 144 strikeouts and 43 walks across 150 2/3 innings of work.

Because he was not extended a qualifying offer by the Blue Jays at the end of the 2021 campaign, any team that signs Matz will not have to forfeit a compensatory draft pick, which presumably adds that much more appeal.

As for just how appealing Matz is to the Red Sox, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reports that the team has “been steadily involved in talks with Matz, though it’s unclear how series the club’s interest has been.”

Cotillo additionally notes that as of last week, ” other teams had been more aggressive to that point” in their pursuit of Matz, but also points out that if it is “a top priority” for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, “the Red Sox could have ramped up their attempt to sign Matz in recent days.”

Matz, who does not turn 31 until May, is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a three-year, $27 million contract in free agency. FanGraphs, on the other hand, has the 6-foot-2, 201 pounder landing a three-year pact worth upwards of $38 million.

It’s unclear at this point just how much the Red Sox are offering Matz, but as noted by Cotillo, the high level of interest surrounding him “might push his guarantee even higher” than the aforementioned projections.

Per Baseball Savant, Matz works with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker, changeup, curveball, and slider. He may not be in the same tier as other free-agent starters such as Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman, or Marcus Stroman, but is still someone teams are intrigued by given the potential upside.

In the scenario that Matz elects to sign with Boston on Wednesday, it’s unlikely that the Sox will stop there when it comes to making upgrades to their starting rotation going into the 2022 season.

Following the departure of Eduardo Rodriguez to the Tigers, Bloom told reporters (including Cotillo) on Monday that the Red Sox have been active in free agency and will continue to do so leading up next Wednesday, when the collective bargaining agreement will expire and likely trigger a work stoppage.

“We don’t have anything teed up that I would say is close but we’re very active in conversations with a few different guys,” Bloom said. “We’ve touched base with a wide variety of players. Just about everybody who is on the market and it’s gotten more serious and more involved with some of them.

“I don’t know right now if that’s going to lead to anything or when,” he added. “I think by the time the offseason is over, we will have added pitching of various sorts, including starting pitching. I think that’s something that’s a clear goal of ours. But who that’s going to be or when, I don’t know yet.”

(Picture of Steven Matz: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have expressed interest’ in free agent reliever Jeurys Familia, per report

The Red Sox have expressed interest in free agent reliever Jeurys Familia, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Familia, 32, became a free agent earlier this month after wrapping up a three-year, $30 million deal with the Mets he originally signed in December 2018.

First signed out of the Dominican Republic by New York as an international free agent in July 2007, Familia made his major-league debut in September 2012 and has since spent the vast majority of his 10-year career with the Mets.

Ahead of the 2018 trade deadline, the Mets dealt Familia to the Athletics, but quickly brought him back on that aforementioned three-year pact just a few months later.

This past season, the veteran right-hander posted a 3.94 ERA and 4.40 FIP to go along with 72 strikeouts to two walks over 65 relief appearances spanning 59 1/3 innings of work.

Per Baseball Savant, Familia operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker, slider, four-seam fastball, and split-finger fastball. His four-seamer, which averaged 97.2 mph this year, may just be his best pitch considering the fact that opposing hitters batted just .073 against it in 2021.

A one-time All-Star, Familia does have plenty of experience when it comes to closing out games, as he registered 43 saves for New York in 2015 and a major-league best 51 saves in 2016.

That said, the 6-foot-3, 240 pound righty has recorded a grand total of one save since re-joining the Mets behind Edwin Diaz in 2019, though he did hold opponents to a 3.83 ERA when pitching in the seventh inning or later this season.

As things stand currently, the Red Sox would benefit from making some additions to their bullpen that is at the moment without Adam Ottavino, Garrett Richards, and Hansel Robles — all of whom are free agents.

(Picture of Jeurys Familia: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Why did Red Sox leave Rule 5 eligible prospects such as Gilberto Jiménez and Thaddeus Ward off 40-man roster? Chaim Bloom explains

The Red Sox were never going to be able to protect all 54 of their eligible minor-leaguers from next month’s Rule 5 Draft since they only had seven open spots on their 40-man roster to work with.

However, when the time came for the Sox to add those prospects they deemed worthy of protecting this past Friday, the club elected to fill just four of the seven vacancies they had on the 40-man.

While right-handers Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Josh Winckowski and infielder Jeter Downs were all added, 50 other Red Sox minor-leaguers were not and effectively became eligible for December’s Rule 5 Draft as a result.

Of those 50 who missed the cut, some notable prospects stick out, such as Kole Cottam, Durbin Feltman, Franklin German, Gilberto Jimenez, A.J. Politi, Ceddanne Rafaela, Victor Santos, Chase Shugart, and Thaddeus Ward, among others.

Within this group, Jimenez and Ward are regarded by SoxProspects.com as two of the top 20 prospects in Boston’s farm system and could be of interest to other clubs come December.

With that being said, though, Jimenez — a 21-year-old outfielder — has yet to advance past the Low-A level in the minors, while Ward — a 24-year-old right-hander — is only five-plus months removed from Tommy John surgery and is unlikely to pitch in 2022.

As FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen recently wrote, Jimenez would “be a bold Rule 5 choice for a rebuilding club, who’d be putting his long-term development at risk by rostering him.”

Ward, on the other hand, “would also be an interesting Rule 5 choice” since his new team could stash him on the 60-day injured list for the entirety of the 2020 season while he rehabs in order to clear a 40-man roster spot of their own.

On Monday, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom explained to reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) just how difficult it was to leave a number of talented players off their 40-man roster going into the winter.

“We had a few tough calls, and I think some of that is a credit to the depth we built up in the system,” Bloom said. “Any time you add someone or leave someone off, in some sense it’s a calculated gamble. Over time, you learn sometimes the best way to lose a player is to add somebody that you shouldn’t. It might lead to you being in a crunch down the road, experiencing that pain of losing a player in another way, whether it’s that [unprotected] player or someone else.

“Knowing there are other things we want to accomplish this off-season with our 40-man roster and players we’d like to bring in both during the off-season and as we get into next year, wanting to have as much space as possible, that’s something you have to factor into the decisions you make,” added Bloom. “So there were a few that were not easy, but ultimately, this is how we felt most comfortable.”

Put another way, by keeping three spots on their 40-man roster open, the Red Sox at present would not have to make a corresponding move if they were to sign a free-agent to a major-league contract.

Along those same lines, Bloom and Co. are essentially daring other teams to take any of the prospects Boston left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and attempt to keep them on their big-league roster throughout the 2022 season.

As SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall explains, if the Red Sox added an eligible prospect like Jimenez to their 40-man roster and wanted to remove him from it in the future, another club could then just claim him off waivers, option him to the minors, and keep him there.

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