Who is Eduard Bazardo? Newest addition to Red Sox’ 40-man roster could prove to be important bullpen piece in 2021

At this time last year, it appeared as though Eduard Bazardo had a legitimate shot to be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.

The right-handed pitching prospect was Rule 5 eligible for the first time, and he needed to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster in order to be protected from the 2019 Rule 5 Draft.

Among the five players who were added last November, Bazardo was not one of them as left-handers Kyle Hart and Yoan Aybar were the only two pitchers to make the cut.

The decision by the Red Sox to leave Bazardo off the 40-man roster meant the Venezuelan could be snatched up by another club during the major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft.

Fortunately for Boston, that did not happen, as Bazardo went undrafted and remained with the organization he began his professional career with back in 2014 after signing for just $8,000 as an international free agent.

Even while staying with the Sox, Bazardo did not get too much exposure in 2020 on account of there being no minor-league season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He was able to appear in four Grapefruit League games back in March before the shutdown, but that was some of the only in-game action he saw up until October.

That being the case because after not being added to the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool at any point during the season, Bazardo was invited to participate in the club’s fall instructional league down in Fort Myers.

There, according to SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall, the 6-foot, 155 lb. righty caused quite the stir thanks to what he did on the mound.

“Right-handed reliever Eduard Bazardo was the most impressive arm at Instructs, showing off increased velocity that puts him squarely in the mix to either be added to the 40-man roster on Friday or selected in the Rule 5 draft,” Cundall wrote earlier this week. “At Instructs, all of Bazardo’s stuff was improved, as he sat 93-97 mph and often pitched at 95-96 with, as one scout called it, a ‘silly’ curveball. His curveball elicited some horrible swings, and its spin rate topped  3000 rpm, which is elite. His fastball is now a plus-to-better pitch, and his curveball is solidly a plus pitch as well.”

The way Bazardo pitched at fall instructs obviously caught the attention of Red Sox higher-ups, such as chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, and he was able to leverage his performance to a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster earlier Friday evening.

As indicated above, Bazardo’s pitch mix includes a fastball and curveball, as well as a split-finger fastball, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report. 

With consistent control and improved command, Bazardo was able to fool hitters at a decent rate at fall instructs, and he’ll presumably have the chance to do that again come February.

Cundall predicts that Bazardo will make his major-league debut in 2021 as a reliever, and given the current state of the Red Sox bullpen, it’s not hard to see why that may be a legitimate possibility.

Red Sox add top pitching prospect Bryan Mata, 6 others to 40-man roster ahead of Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox added seven minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster on Friday in order to protect them from being eligible for this December’s Rule 5 Draft.

Right-handers Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold, and Eduard Bazardo, left-hander Jay Groome, catcher Connor Wong, infielder Hudson Potts, and outfielder Jeisson Rosario were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster.

Going into Friday, the Sox’ 40-man roster was at 36 players, meaning three players had to be removed in order to make room for the seven names mentioned above.

The three players removed from Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday were left-handers Kyle Hart and Matt Hall, and right-hander Ryan Weber. Hart has been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, while Hall and Weber were designated for assignment.

Both Hart and Hall made their Red Sox debuts in 2020, and both struggled mightily in limited action.

In what was his first taste of the big-leagues, the soon-to-be 27-year-old Hart allowed 15 runs (13 earned) on 17 hits and 10 walks over just nine innings pitched through his first three starts after getting called up in mid-August.

A demotion to the bullpen did not do any wonders for the former 19th-round draft pick either, as he surrendered six earned runs over two innings of relief against the Braves on September 1 before his season came to an end a day later due to a left hip impingement.

Hall, meanwhile, was acquired by Boston in a trade that sent minor-league catcher Jhon Nunez to the Tigers back in January.

The 27-year-old looked impressive at summer camp, but that did not translate well to his first season with the Sox.

Making just four appearances (one start), the southpaw posted a dismal 18.69 ERA and 7.92 FIP in 8 2/3 innings of work.

As for Weber, this comes as somewhat of a surprise considering the notion that the Red Sox have always seemingly been high on him as well as the fact that he held opponents to a .656 OPS against over his last 14 outings (two starts) of the year.

Still, the 30-year-old hurler’s 2020 season had plenty of down moments as well, and it appears that Boston no longer deems him worthy of a 40-man roster spot.

Because they were designated for assignment, Hall and Weber will have to clear waivers if they are return to the Red Sox in a lesser capacity unless they opt for free agency instead.

So, the removals of Hart, Hall, and Weber decreased the Sox’ 40-man roster size to 33, thus opening the gateway for all seven of Bazardo, Groome, Mata, Potts, Rosario, Seabold, and Wong to be added Friday evening.

Groome, Mata, Potts, Rosario, Seabold, and Wong were all expected to be protected from this winter’s Rule 5 Draft, leaving Bazardo as the most interesting addition listed here.

The 25-year-old was actually eligible for last year’s Rule 5 Draft, too, but he did not get selected.

Despite not being added to the Sox’ 60-man player pool at any point in time this past season, Bazardo impressed enough at fall instructs to earn himself a spot on the 40-man.

The Venezuela native originally signed with Boston for just $8,000 as an international free agent in 2014.

Most recently, he posted a 2.21 ERA and .206 batting average against in 38 total relief appearances and 73 1/3 innings pitched between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2019.

Listed at 6-foot and 155 lbs., Bazardo could very well make his major-league debut out of the Red Sox bullpen at some point next season. He certainly will be one of the more fascinating hurlers to monitor during spring training once camp breaks in February.

With Friday’s round of transactions complete, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is now at full capacity at 40 players. That does not mean that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will continue to make moves, though, as this could make for an eventful winter depending on how the free agent and trade market plays out.

Long story short, Bloom and the Red Sox are not close to done in terms of 2021 roster construction. There will be plenty more to come.