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Red Sox gauging trade interest in out-of-options pitchers

11.17.11 at 5:48 pm ET

MILWAUKEE — With major league teams required to set their 40-man rosters to protect players from the Rule 5 draft on Friday, the Red Sox explored trade interest in some of their players who are out of options during the GM meetings in order to get a feel for how many spots they might have available to add players, according to a major league source.

Left-handed pitchers Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller and Felix Doubront and right-handers Michael Bowden and Scott Atchison all represent pitchers who are out of minor-league options but whose role on the big league roster is somewhat uncertain. As such, the Sox spent part of the GM meetings exploring what kind of interest existed in those pitchers, given that it will be virtually impossible for them to form a big league bullpen next year that would include all of them on the Opening Day roster.

If the team expects, based on interest shown at the GM meetings this week, to move one or more of those arms during the offseason, then it would impact the number of players whom the team might consider adding to the 40-man roster on Friday in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

Players who are not on the 40-man roster but who have played for at least four years (if they were signed at age 19 or older) or five years (if they signed at 18 and younger) can be selected by other clubs in the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings. Players identified as top prospects and valuable major league contributors are almost always identified for protection from such a fate.

The Red Sox are certain to add third baseman Will Middlebrooks — one of the top prospects in the system — to the 40-man roster. Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin, a tremendous defensive center fielder who also draws tons of walks but has shown little power in the majors, is also highly likely to be protected in order to give the organization outfield depth.

Left-hander Drake Britton suffered through a dreadful 2011 campaign in High-A Salem, going 1-13 with a 6.91 ERA, 8.2 strikeouts and 5.1 walks per nine innings, that could place him on the bubble for protection if the Sox are in need of a spot on their 40-man roster. But, as things currently stand, the team is likely to protect a pitcher who entered the year as one of their top prospects. (The profile of a hard-throwing left-hander with command issues very much fits the bill of the type of player who tends to get scooped up in the Rule 5 draft.)

The team could consider adding additional candidates, a decision that would become easier if more spots on the 40-man roster are created through trades. Even so, the Sox already do have some wiggle room in the matter, given that their 40-man roster is currently at 35.

However, the team will also need to add players to their roster this winter (a DH, potentially a catcher, starting and bullpen candidates and a right-handed outfielder), explaining why the team is examining the market for some of its pitchers on the 40-man roster.

Read More: Che-Hsuan Lin, drake britton, felix doubront, franklin morales
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