The Boston Red Sox have the best record in Major League Baseball, but that doesn’t mean the roster couldn’t use a little help.
Thankfully, rosters are about to expand.
Beginning Sept. 1, the Red Sox can dress and deploy any player on their 40-man roster (prior to Sept. 1, teams only can use the players on their active 25-man roster). Yes, it’s time to talk September call-ups.
Before we get into which players Red Sox fans should have their eyes on, let’s go over a few details to remember about roster expansion:
— Teams actually can use anyone on their 40-man roster, although most only call-up a few players.
— Players not on the 40-man-roster still can be called up, but another player first must be removed from the 40-man, unless there already is an open spot.
— The Red Sox, for example, currently have 39 players on the 40-man-roster, because of the 43 players listed on the roster, four — Dustin Pedroia, Austin Maddox, Carson Smith and Marco Hernandez — are on the 60-day disabled list. Players on the 60-day D.L. technically are not on the 40-man roster, but still are postseason-eligible. (The phrase “to make room on the 40-man roster, player X was transferred to the 60-day D.L.” might ring a bell.)
— Players must be on the 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 draft.
There are many more details and guidelines for roster expansion, but you get the idea. If you want to learn more, you can click here to view Major League Baseball’s guide on roster expansion.
Without further ado, let’s look at notable players Red Sox fans could see in September:
(We’re intentionally excluding players like Robby Scott, Bobby Poyner and Tzu-Wei Lin, because of Red Sox fans’ familiarity with them.)
Michael Chavis, 1B/3B (No. 1 Red Sox prospect on MLB.com)
Given Boston’s redundancy at first and third base, it’s probably unwise to expect to see Chavis on the big league squad before next season. Still, his performance since being called up to Triple-A Pawtucket last week might be forcing Boston’s hand.
A player who’s had a reputation for getting pull-happy, Chavis has racked up a .429 batting average, three doubles and two opposite-field homers in five games with the PawSox. His defense is a work in progress at both corner infield spots, but his power is undeniable.
Chavis isn’t on the 40-man roster, and the 2014 first-round pick is Rule 5 eligible this summer, so Boston has to put him on the 40-man at some point. They might do that in September, but we wouldn’t count on it. Furthermore, Chavis is ineligible for the playoffs due to the 80-game suspension he served earlier this season for using performance-enhancing drugs. There really isn’t much of a point to the Red Sox exposing him to MLB pitching earlier than necessary.
Brandon Phillips, IF
The 37-year-old infielder looked like more of September call-up lock before the Red Sox acquired Ian Kinsler, but we still expect to see him on the big league roster before the end of the season.
Like Chavis, Phillips might struggle to find at-bats, thanks to Boston’s depth at third base, shortstop and second base. But he’s hit well in Triple-A this season (.308 average with three homers in 34 games) and has postseason experience.
Expect to see him at Fenway Park in September.
Travis Lakins, RP (No. 15 Red Sox prospect on MLB.com)
A sixth-round pick in 2015, Lakins has excelled since moving to the bullpen this season. In 40 appearances (six starts) between Double-A and Triple-A this year, Lakins has posted a 2.47 ERA to go along with a 9.9 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio.
Given the Red Sox’s issues in the bullpen, we wouldn’t be shocked if they took a flier on Lakins, in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.
Chandler Shepherd, SP (No. 22 Red Sox prospect on MLB.com)
Shepherd already is on the 40-man roster, and is a candidate to make a spot start down the stretch, should the situation call for it.
A 13th-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, Shepherd is 7-9 with a 3.93 ERA in 24 starts this season. He projects as a back-of-the-rotation arm, but he nevertheless is someone who could get a shot down the stretch.
Mike Shawaryn, SP (No. 9 Red Sox prospect on MLB.com)
A fifth-round pick in 2016, Shawaryn is one of hottest prospects in Boston’s system.
He’s 8-9 with a 3.46 ERA in 24 appearances this season, including one out of the bullpen. He also has shown good control and an ability to miss bats.
Shawaryn profiles as a starter, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a shot out of the bullpen down the stretch.
So, there you have it. Of course, there’s a decent chance the Red Sox call up players that aren’t on our radar, and there’s also a chance they call up none of the players on this list.
Still, expect to see some new faces during the final month of the regular season.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images