Red Sox

MLB Notebook: Roster turnover this season reminds Dan Duquette of ’95; Playoff-bound Red Sox?

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In the last week and a half, the Red Sox have imported three pitchers from outside the organization. First, Zack Godley, then Dylan Covey, and on Saturday, Stephen Gonsalves.

How much -- if at all -- any of them will be able to contribute this year (or beyond) is impossible to know. But what seems quite obvious by now is this: get ready for transactions this season. And lots of them.

New chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom undoubtedly sees the unusual circumstances of this season as an opportunity to experiment and take a look at a lot of players -- pitchers in particular. The unique presence of alternate training sites allows the Sox to hold season-long tryouts at their alternate training sites, and if he sees someone of interest, he's more than willing to take a look.

The same goes for the major league roster. If someone isn't working, he'll be returned to the Player Pool, and a replacement will be found. The roster churn will, at times, make your head spin.

Dan Duquette has been there, and done that.

Like Bloom, he was a new Red Sox GM the last time baseball got a late start and had a shortened season (1995, thanks to a work stoppage). Like Bloom, he was taking over a roster that was in some flux. And like Bloom, he wasn't above making a series of dizzying transactions along the way.

The 1995 Red Sox used 53 players, which at the time was a franchise record: 27 position players, 26 pitchers. The Red Sox could have installed a revolving door on the clubhouse that season. Daily, it was in with the new and out with someone else.


Lather, rinse, repeat.

"Remember, the players were out for a long time,'' said Duquette, "from August of 1994 until almost May of 1995. There wasn't a smooth transition from one year to the next, so things were kind of different. We were assembling a roster on the fly. Both Frank Viola and Roger (Clemens) had gotten hurt, so we were to trying to rebuild the starting pitching staff.''

Sound familiar? The Red Sox lost Rick Porcello to free agency, David Price in a trade and Chris Sale to surgery, and without any of their minor league prospects being ready to contribute at the major league level, are in the market for pitchers who represent even the smallest of upgrades.

"It's probably a lot more challenging to do that this year,'' said a sympathetic Duquette. "I think you'll see teams hustling to structure their roster for each game, especially given the long interruption of competition and the additional medical challenges (due to the pandemic). And then add in the ongoing restructuring of the player development system (with no minor league season). There's some similarities there certainly.''

Duquette recalls