The Boston Red Sox would love to add another starting pitcher to solidify their 2012 rotation. While they have been connected to free agents Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson, there is one very good reason for Red Sox fans to expect the team to solve this problem through another trade. The Red Sox currently have five players on the roster with less than five years of service time who are out of options and at least one may need to be designated for assignment should the team add anyone else to the 40 man roster.
Boston has Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront, Darnell McDonald, Franklin Morales, and Matt Albers all on the 40 man roster and out of options . If the team did sign a free agent, at least one of these men would need to be designated for assignment and pass through waivers before landing in AAA Pawtucket. In January, the Red Sox were already forced to DFA pitcher Scott Atchison before they could add free agent signee Cody Ross to the team.
Should Boston sign another free agent, Darnell McDonald would be the obvious choice for the imperative DFA. The 33 year old outfielder is a hard working ball player and could fit well as the right-handed side of an outfield platoon, but his age and his limitations make him the most likely player to pass through waivers. With Ross on the team, McDonald’s role is less clearly defined and losing him to a waiver claim would not do much harm to the Red Sox.
The Red Sox could certainly use one or two of the other option-less players in a trade. Felix Doubront disappointed the Red Sox last season when he showed up to Spring Training out of shape and then struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness throughout the 2011 season. The young lefty does have some strong minor league numbers and could very well be a solid fourth or fifth starter in the near future. Michael Bowden has been an even bigger disappointment for Boston, first failing to stick as a starter and then struggling in his limited major league experience as a reliever. The righty does have better strikeout and walk numbers than his ERA has implied and he could be a good ROOGY or even a setup man at some point. He is a fly ball heavy pitcher though and Fenway doesn’t provide the best environment for his skills. A move to the NL and a better park would be a benefit to Bowden.
Matt Albers and Franklin Morales both put together decent 2011 campaigns and should figure prominently in the Red Sox bullpen plans. It would be tough to imagine either of these players getting traded. Both have a clear role in Boston and would not provide much value to a rebuilding team like the White Sox or the Mets. Neither is irreplaceable, by any means, but they are almost certainly going to be around for the start of Spring Training.