Mason: Pros and cons of Red Sox roster moves with Dustin Pedroia due back

Blake Swihart lost his brother on Wednesday morning (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

With Dustin Pedroia's return imminent — perhaps as soon as Friday — the Red Sox find themselves in their second serious roster crunch of the season.

"When Pedey comes back... we'll have to make a move," Dave Dombrowski said earlier this month, "We'll see where that takes us."

The last time there were 26 players for 25 spots, Deven Marrero wound up in a Diamondbacks uniform. It may not be a trade this time, but something has to give. 

Here are the pros and cons to five possible moves for Dombrowski and Alex Cora:

1. An outright trade of Blake Swihart

Pros: The Sox are in need of at least one reliever and Swihart's agent requested the catcher be traded last week; it'd make the player happy while satisfying a need.

In 2015, Swihart wasn't just the best prospect in the organization, he was the top ranked catcher in all of baseball. That was just three years ago. The Sox couldn't have mishandled his development any worse, but perhaps there's still value there to salvage. 

Swihart isn't playing anyway, so Cora is essentially managing shorthanded with a 24-man roster. 

Cons: The Sox would be losing one of their only trade chips months before the July 31 deadline. 

As it stands, the farm system is thinner than ever. Top pitching prospect Jay Groome needed Tommy John surgery and the best hitter in the system, Michael Chavis, was popped for an 80-game PED suspension. If the Sox need something else at the deadline, there wouldn't be much to trade.

Other teams are also wise to the fact that Dombrowski needs to make a roster move, so the Sox may not get fair return as it stands.  

The skinny: If the market isn't there, a trade seems unlikely. 

2. Option Brock Holt to Pawtucket

Pros: It buys the Red Sox more time with Swihart, and Eduardo Nunez is still available ease Pedroia's workload.

Holt has a minor league option left, so they wouldn't risk losing him to waivers.

Cons: With vertigo and concussion issues seemingly behind him, the utility man has hit .329 with an .867 OPS in 23 games.

Holt has played the outfield, second base and shortstop, and thrives despite an infrequent work schedule; when Holt is inserted into the starting lineup, he's ready to hit no matter how many off days have preceded it.

His range is also better than Nunez's, making him a more suitable replacement when Xander Bogaerts needs a day off.

The skinny: It's possible, but the Red Sox valued Holt enough to deal Marrero in the spring. What makes him more expendable now? He's been great off the bench.

3. Option Jackie Bradley Jr. 

The pros: Though he looked better on Tuesday night, Bradley has been in a slump pretty much all season. He's struggled to hit fastballs, something he could work out in a far less pressurized environment in Pawtucket. 

Bradley has a minor league option left, so this also buys more time with Swihart. 

The cons: Bradley still displays elite defense, and a demotion at this stage of his career may upset the player. 

The skinny: Cora said this wasn't going to happen on WEEI yesterday. It may have been an idea out of center field to begin with.

4. Place Eduardo Nunez on the disabled list

The pros: Nunez is not playing at 100 percent, so downtime could help his balky knee. 

If Nunez was the move, the Sox would still have Holt to spell Pedroia upon his return. The DL trip also keeps Swihart in the fold. 

The cons: It could upset the player, and if Nunez's knee issue is chronic, he might not come back much healthier. 

The skinny: This option really might make the most sense — the further the Sox can push the goalposts towards the trade deadline with Swihart the better — but Cora ruled it out on the radio, too.  

5. DFA Swihart

Pros: If the Red Sox designate Swihart for assignment, they'll have a window to work out a trade. 

Perhaps that creates a bidding war with the 26-year-old catcher so readily available. If teams know that a trade is coming, there may be more interest in the player.

Cons: It could work the other way, where the Red Sox wind up getting far less than market value rather than just losing him for nothing. 

The cons from outright trading him apply too: The Sox would be parting with Swihart months before the deadline with little organizational depth. 

The skinny: Based on Cora's radio commentary and the fact that Dombrowski hasn't struck a deal yet, this could be the most likely move. 

Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason