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Which Red Sox are out of options heading into 2012 season

02.15.12 at 12:13 pm ET

Per usual, Tim Dierkes and MLB Trade Rumors came up with another informative post this morning, listing those major league players out of options heading into the 2012 season. Of note were the list of Red Sox who fell under the option-less umbrella — Pitchers Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales and Matt Albers, along with outfielder Darnell McDonald.

The list — which only includes players on the 40-man roster — offers a reminder when it comes to what the Red Sox might be weighing in when it comes to cut down day. In other words, if it is coming down to a pitcher in the aforementioned group and somebody like Junichi Tazawa (who does have an option) when making a decision for the Opening Day roster, even with a slight performance edge Tazawa would find himself back down in Triple-A Pawtucket.

In case you forgot, any player out of options would have to clear waivers if he was sent to the minors. Only one option is used per year when a player is called up to the major leagues, no matter how many times they are promoted.

Looking at the roster today, going off 2011 performance, it would appear that both Morales and Albers have jobs to lose heading into spring training, with Doubront and Miller certainly getting heavy looks because they are lefties and possess significant upside when healthy and mechanically sound.

Of the pitchers, it is Bowden whose fate would be most connected to his performance in spring training (perhaps in large part because he is not a left-hander and no longer is viewed as a starter).

The 25-year-old seemed to find his niche in 2010 when moved to the bullpen. In ’11, Bowden saw two stints with the big club, being called up at the end of May and pitching through the end of June, and then resurfacing just before September. From Sept. 15 through to the end of the regular season, he pitched just three times, but allowed just a single hit over four innings.

From 2007-09 Bowden was ranked as a Top 100 prospect by Baseball America, and hasn’t allowed more than a 3.66 ERA in any of his past four minor league seasons (all spent with Pawtucket). In fact, ’11 might have quietly been his best year to date, finishing with a 2.73 EA while appearing in 41 games for the PawSox, striking out 61 and walking 18.

As for McDonald, the outfielder came close to leaving the organization because he was out of options in 2010, having been actually informed by the team that it would be designating him for assignment during a series against Tampa Bay. But an injury to Jacoby Ellsbury that day put a halt to all paperwork, keeping McDonald with the Red Sox.

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