The bulk of MLB offseason chatter centers on free agency and potential trades. The deadline for teams to set their 40-man roster is far less sexy.
That being said, it’s still an important date, as teams must decide which players to protect from the Rule 5 draft. The Red Sox are expected to add outfielder Bryce Brentz, pitcher Anthony Ranaudo and third baseman Garin Cecchini to their 40-man roster before Wednesday’s deadline, thus protecting the minor leaguers from next month’s Rule 5 draft, according to WEEI.com’s Alex Speier.
There are certain requirements that minor leaguers must meet in order to be eligible for the Rule 5 draft — which will take place on Dec. 12 at the winter meetings — and each of the three aforementioned players fits the bill. Players who were 18 or younger on the June 5 prior to their signing may be selected in the fifth Rule 5 draft following them originally being signed. Players who were 19 or older when signed can be selected in the fourth Rule 5 draft following their signing.
According to ESPN.com, the following players in the Red Sox system will be eligible to be selected if they are not added to the 40-man roster on Wednesday:
Mario Alcantara, Michael Almanzar, Chris Balcom-Miller, Carson Blair, Bryce Brentz, Chris Carpenter, Garin Cecchini, Keith Couch, William Cuevas, Keury De La Cruz, Luis Diaz, Leonel Escobar, Derrik Gibson, Dreily Guerrero, Jayson Hernandez, Chris Hernandez, Peter Hissey, Aaron King, Aaron Kurcz, Tommy Layne, Juan Carlos Linares, Mario Martinez, Mike McCoy, Heiker Meneses, Boss Moanaroa, Yunior Ortega, Oscar Perez, Mathew Price, Anthony Ranaudo, Nate Reed, David Renfroe, Pete Ruiz, Felix Sanchez, Kyle Stroup, Francisco Taveras, Raynel Velette, Jose Vinicio, Kolbrin Vitek, Stefan Welch, Shannon Wilkerson, and Madison Younginer.
If an unprotected player is selected by another team in the Rule 5 draft, he must spend the entire upcoming season on the drafting team’s 25-man roster or be offered back to his previous team. The Red Sox lost Josh Fields to the Astros in the 2012 Rule 5 draft, and the 28-year-old right-hander spent the entire season pitching out of Houston’s bullpen.
Brentz (a supplemental first-round pick in 2010), Ranaudo (a supplemental first-round pick in 2010) and Cecchini (a fourth-round pick in 2010) are all logical choices to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster, thus protecting them from this year’s Rule 5 draft, as each has shown major league potential since joining the organization.
Brentz hit .264 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs in 82 games with Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013. The 24-year-old outfielder missed a chunk of time after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus and also had an incident in January in which he accidentally shot himself in the leg while cleaning a gun. But Brentz has shown plenty of power throughout his minor league career, and that’s something that’s certainly intriguing.
Ranaudo went 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 106 strikeouts, and 40 walks in 109 2/3 innings with Double-A Portland, which resulted in him being named Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. The 24-year-old right-hander went 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 21 strikeouts, and seven walks in 30 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket following an Aug. 2 promotion.
Cecchini, who is the youngest of the bunch at age 22, spent his 2013 season split between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. The third baseman hit just seven home runs in 129 games, but batted .322 while showing good plate discipline. There’s been speculation that he could shift to first base or even left field at some point.
The Red Sox’ 40-man roster prior to adding the trio stands at 36.