Following up on this story from earlier Monday, the Red Sox have granted left-hander Brian Johnson his unconditional release, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and Christopher Smith.
As previously mentioned, Johnson had departed from the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket to return to his home in Florida.
Although it appeared as though he could have been opting out of the 2020 season at the time that news was originally reported, it now looks like Johnson is unhappy with his role within the Red Sox organization more than anything.
That being the case because, despite having one of the more unstable starting rotations in the American League, the Sox have yet to give Johnson another shot at the major-league level this season.
The 29-year-old southpaw was outrighted off the 40-man roster and demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket last November following a shaky 2019 campaign, but after putting together a decent spring training and Summer Camp as a non-roster invitee, it seemed like Johnson had a legitimate shot to make Boston’s Opening Day roster last month.
Instead, the Florida native was assigned to the alternate training site at McCoy Stadium, was limited to simulated games and live BPs, and must have had enough of that once he realized he was listed relatively low on the Sox’ internal starting pitching depth chart.
Now, with his release being made official, Johnson will be free to pursue a new opportunity with another club if he so chooses.
Originally drafted by Boston in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft out of the University of Florida, Johnson had spent the previous eight-plus years in the Red Sox organization. He will be missed.
Less than a week after designating him for assignment in order to make room for reliever Austin Brice on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox outrighted utility infielder Marco Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday.
This roster move comes one day after the club dealt another utility piece in Sam Travis to the Texas Rangers in exchange for left-handed reliever Jeffrey Springs.
Like Hernandez, Travis was designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A earlier in the month, so it does not seem out of the realm of possibilities that the 27-year-old could also be traded in the coming weeks if there is any interest.
Returning from a two-year absence in 2019 due to multiple shoulder surgeries, Hernandez slashed .250/.279/.338 with two home runs and 11 RBI over 61 games for Boston last season.
Since Chaim Bloom took over as the Sox’ chief baseball officer last October, the Dominican Republic native has been non-tendered, brought back as a free agent, designated for assignment, and outrighted to the minors in the span of just over a month. Quite the eventful offseason.
Entering his sixth season with the Red Sox organization, Hernandez will look to compete for a spot back on Boston’s 40-man roster once spring training begins, if he is not already traded by then.
One week after he was designated for assignment Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier Thursday, meaning he is now off Boston’s 40-man roster.
The 26-year-old Travis was designated on January 2nd in order to make room on the Sox’ 40-man roster for former Mets and Indians catcher Kevin Plawecki, whom the club signed to a one-year major-league contract earlier that day.
That decision to drop Travis from the 40-man roster more than likely came from the fact that the Illinois native was out of minor-league options headed into the spring and would have had to fight for a spot on Boston’s Opening Day squad.
Now, with Travis neither being traded to or claimed by another club, he will have the chance to provide the Sox with depth at both corner outfield spots as well as first base while in Triple-A.
In a career-high 59 games in 2019, the former 2014 second-round pick slashed .215/.274/.382 with six home runs and 16 RBI.
As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes, Travis will likely still receive an invite to major league camp come February.
The Red Sox have reportedly outrighted left-hander Brian Johnson, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
Johnson, who turns 29 in December, can now be claimed by any other club, meaning the Sox now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.
As noted in the above tweet from Rosenthal, teams have until next Monday, December 2nd, to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players who would free agents otherwise.
Johnson still has one year of team control remaining before becoming eligible for salary arbitration, but these kinds of decisions are going to be made all across baseball in the next week.
Appearing in 21 games (seven starts) for Boston in an injury-riddled 2019, the University of Florida product posted an ERA of 6.02 and FIP of 5.32 over 40 1/3 innings of work. This coming the year after Johnson proved to be a valuable member of the Sox’ pitching staff as both a starter and reliever in 2018.
With new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm, the Red Sox are clearly in need of some help at the back end of the starting rotation, and maybe even more so depending on the statuses of Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale, headed into next spring.
That said, the first move to address this potential issue came last week, when 27-year-old left-hander Kyle Hart was added to Boston’s 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 deadline this past Wednesday.
Johnson being outrighted does not necessarily mean his Red Sox career is over, but his time on the club’s major-league roster is, or at least for the time being.