FORT MYERS, Fla. -- What often comes into play when teams pare down to the 25-man Opening Day roster is which players still have options, meaning they can be sent to the minors without having to pass through waivers.
Players with options remaining: Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Drake Britton, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Butler, Rubby De La Rosa, Ryan Dempster, Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mauro Gomez, Alex Hassan, Brock Holt, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Kalish, John Lackey, Ryan Lavarnway, Jon Lester, Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, Christian Vazquez, Shane Victorino, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson, Steven Wright.
What does all of that mean? Obviously, the fact that an Ortiz or Dempster have options left means nothing. Where it does matter is the discussion of bullpen spots, catcher, backup infielder, backup outfielder, and rotation.
Bullpen: The fact that Mortensen is out of options likely means the Sox will attempt to move him this spring, since there doesn’t appear to be a spot in the bullpen for him. But chances are that teams will wait until he is placed on waivers, and it’s possible he could clear and be assigned to Pawtucket.
It becomes more relevant for Morales. Breslow is signed to a two-year deal, so he will be one lefty in the pen. Miller pitched well in that role last season, and would appear to have the inside track for the other. Morales also seems to be a longshot for the rotation, so he could be a trade target this spring. He won’t pass through waivers unclaimed.
Catcher: Ryan Lavarnway still has options, which is why the Sox can postpone making a decision on his future and send him back to Pawtucket, as unhappy as that might make him.
Bench positions: Nava is out of options, so that could give him an inside track for an extra outfielder’s job, although the Sox probably wouldn’t be afraid to expose him to waivers. He has cleared before. Ciriaco is out of options, which probably gives him the inside track over Brock Holt and Drew Sutton, although Sutton’s versatility -- he can play both infield and outfield -- should earn him a long look.
Starting rotation: Pawtucket has the makings of a terrific rotation, with the Sox holding options on De La Rosa, Webster, Britton and Wright. A great spring by any of them could tempt the Sox to move one of the Big 5 -- Lackey? -- but the Sox may prefer to keep the depth the young arms provide.