Butch Dill/USA Today Sports

It looks like Bryce Brentz is getting his big chance

Rob Bradford
November 14, 2017 - 5:15 pm

ORLANDO -- Two years ago, the Red Sox needed a right-handed hitting fourth outfielder, so they committed two years and $14 million to Chris Young.

This time around, they will be relying on one of their own.

Speaking at the GM meetings Tuesday, Dave Dombrowski said that Bryce Brentz is the heavy favorite to fill the position left behind by Young, who is now a free agent. 

"Right now, we’ll have Bryce Brentz do that job for us," the Red Sox president of baseball operations said. "We have also internally Blake Swihart, who we think can play outfield, trying to create continued versatility."

Brentz had a breakout season in Triple-A in 2017, hitting 31 home runs in 120 games for Pawtucket. But the righty hitter still didn't receive a promotion in Sept., with the team choosing to rely on Young for its righty bat off the bench.

The Red Sox were also hesitant to promote Brentz because his presence would necessitate a player being taken off the 40-man roster, which the 28-year-old was not on. This offseason, however, Brentz was added to the Red Sox' 40-man, keeping him from becoming a free agent.

"We had a veteran in Chris Young playing that position at that time. We didn’t have the at-bats for him to bring him up because of how our roster was constructed. But we really liked him," Dombrowski said. "He did a good job for us. I know people look at that as there’s roster limitations. There are 40 guys at the time. There’s not at-bats. What are you going to do with him?

"We always, in our own mind, felt that we could get to that time at the end of the year where we could protect him. We’re looking at him. He has a leg up. We’re not really looking to go sign somebody at this time. Could somebody later on, if they’re a person that can add some roster depth, somebody so good that they fall to you, would you be open to that? Sure. But right now, we like him. He’s having a real good winter ball season in Mexico. He shows you the determination to play there, which is really a credit to him. We felt he made some strides last year, particularly when it comes to left-handed pitching."

Without financial restrictions, Rusney Castillo would also be in the mix to serve as a fourth outfielder. The 30-year-old hit .395 with a 1.085 OPS against lefties with Pawtucket in 2017. But because he still is slated to make $11 million, the Red Sox may not be ready to have that chunk count against the luxury tax just to promote an extra outfielder.

"He’s  a contender for a spot. In his situation, he is still talked about," Dombrowski said. "There are  still other ramifications that go along. But we’re open-minded to that."

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