Friday represents the last day for the Red Sox to add minor league players to their 40-man roster, thus protecting them from the Rule 5 draft, scheduled for the final day of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 9.
The Sox have four spots on the roster they can fill in order to hold onto a player. They must do so by midnight or risk losing any of a group of 41 minor leaguers who have been in the organization for four or five years, depending on their age when they signed. Any spots left vacant could potentially be filled by the Red Sox with a Rule 5 pick of their own, but by rule those players must be kept on the 25-man roster for the duration of the following season or returned to the original club at a cost.
The process, designed to prevent teams from stockpiling capable talent in their system and open up major league opportunities for those otherwise blocked by their current team, usually sees few players chosen. Those that are picked and kept are often relief pitchers or speedy position players who can be used as a pinch runner, but rarely do they have everyday skills.
Every so often, as was the case in 1954 when Roberto Clemente was left unprotected by the Brooklyn Dodgers and consequently picked up by Pittsburgh, the procedure can alter the landscape.
There probably isn't a Clemente in the 41 players eligible for the draft in the Sox' system, but there are a few notable names, particularly promising 20-year-old right-hander Stolmy Pimentel and star infielder Oscar Tejeda.
Among those that the Sox have obtained through the draft and kept is right-hander Vaughn Eshelman, who won 15 games for Boston from 1995-97, and left-hander Lenny DiNardo, a member of the team from 2004-06.
Here is the list of players eligible to be taken in the draft if they are not added to Boston's 40-man roster by midnight Friday: