During a post-deadline press conference with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, Red Sox general manager Brian O'Halloran made an interesting admission -- the team already knows the identities of the players to be named later in deals for Kevin Pillar and Josh Osich.
This leads to an obvious question: if the Red Sox know who they are now, why wait to announce them later? The answer, as with most things in this topsy-turvy season: blame the pandemic.
First, the particulars. At Monday's trade deadline, the Red Sox shipped Pillar to the Rockies for a PTBNL and international bonus money, and Osich to the Cubs for PTBNL. A center fielder and left-hander, respectively, Pillar and Osich didn't project to return Grade A prospects, but they still offered some value, thanks to Pillar's defense and Osich's numbers vs. left-handers.
The reason neither deal was officially completed is because the players coming in return aren't part of their respective organization's 60-man player pools.
By the rules of this nontraditional season, each club can keep up to 60 players either on their active roster or at their alternate training site, which in the case of the Red Sox is at Triple-A Pawtucket. Those are the only players that can be used in a major league game, and more to the point, they're also the only players that can be traded during the season.
While the Cubs and Rockies could've added those players to their 60-man pools, they'd first have to remove someone to make room. And since each club is trying to make the playoffs -- the Cubs lead the NL Central, while the Rockies are just a half-game behind the Giants for the second wild card -- they can't afford to sacrifice depth right now simply to facilitate a trade that can be completed after the season.
This roster crunch cuts both ways, since by rule the Red Sox must add anyone they acquire to their 60-man pool. Non-roster players removed from the 60-man must be released, which could cost a contending team depth, or a rebuilding team like the Red Sox a chance to evaluate a potential piece of the future. If the players coming to the Red Sox are lower-level minor leaguers, then there's little point in sending them to Pawtucket.
These restrictions lift once this strange season ends. So even though the Red Sox technically have six months to acquire their players to be named, it shouldn't take that long. Completing these deals might end up being their first moves of what projects to be a very busy offseason.