The Red Sox have put former top prospect Henry Owens on outright waivers, taking him off the 40-man roster, a baseball source said Wednesday.
The 40-man roster was full after the Red Sox protected players ahead of the Rule 5 draft. Putting Owens on waivers exposes him to other teams and also allows the Red Sox to add a player to the 40-man roster. Any major leaguer acquired via trade or as a free-agent signing would need a 40-man space.
It wasn't immediately known if the Sox were making space preemptively, because they will eventually need likely multiple spaces, or if a player acquisition was imminent. Two baseball sources speculated a move was likely sooner rather than later, and one noted it was probably just a matter of time before Owens' spot in particular was needed.
Owens, a tall 25-year-old lefty, has always had a high ceiling but has had severe control problems. He was a 36th overall draft pick in 2011 and has 85 big league innings with a 5.19 ERA. He walked 24 in 63 innings in 2015, and walked 20 in 22 innings in 2016. In 2017, between Double-A and Triple-A, he walked 115 in 126 innings.
Owens was Baseball America's No. 2 prospect in the Sox system for two straight years, heading into 2014 and 2015.
The Red Sox made their first round of cuts Tuesday morning, and at least one name was no surprise.
Left-hander Henry Owens, whose struggles have been the talk of the Sox' spring-training camp, was one of six players shipped out. He, fellow left-hander Brian Johnson and right-hander Brandon Workman were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, while third baseman Rafael Devers, outfielder Junior Lake and catcher Jordan Procyshen were returned to minor-league camp for reassignment.
Barring several injuries to Red Sox starters, Owens wasn't going to start the season in Boston anyway. But he's been miserable so far in the exhibition season -- 0-3 in his three starts with a 15.95 ERA, an opponents' batting average of .382 and a WHIP of 3.41, 12 walks allowed in 7 1/3 innings -- and is now talking about tweaking his mechanics in an attempt to solve his command problems. That he was one of the first cuts indicates the Red Sox are concerned.
Manager John Farrell told reporters the three pitchers sent out "need work", and, via Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, said specifically of Owens: "He knows he's capable of more . . . He knows he needs to get better."
Also, Farrell said -- to no one's surprise -- David Price is likely to start the season on the disabled list. Price is still recovering from elbow and forearm issues that sidelined him earlier this month and has yet to throw off a mound. Until he does, the Red Sox can't begin to construct a timetable for his return.
Left-hander Henry Owens allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings in a Red Sox split squad's 13-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.
Owens, seeking a possible place in the rotation with David Price recovering from elbow soreness, allowed five hits, walked four and struck out four as he again struggled with his command. His spring training ERA ballooned to 15.95.
In his five starts for Boston last season, Owens walked 20 in 22 innings and was 0-2 with a 6.95 ERA.
The Red Sox were held to six hits by five Minnesota pitchers, incluing starter Kyle Gibson, who went five innings, allowed four hits, one walk and struck out four.