6:36 pm: Barnes has tested positive for the virus, reports Ian Browne of MLB.com (Twitter link).
5:59 pm: Boston has placed Pérez and Barnes on the injured list, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe was among those to relay. In corresponding moves, righty Phillips Valdéz has been recalled from Triple-A Worcester while Boston selected righty Raynel Espinal to the big league roster.
Espinal will make his major league debut whenever he first gets into a game. A longtime Yankees farmhand, Espinal signed a minor league deal with Boston over the winter and has spent the entire season with Worcester. He’s been a reliable and generally productive member of the starting rotation there, pitching to a 3.74 ERA across 91 1/3 innings with league average strikeout and walk rates (23.9% and 9.7%, respectively). Because Espinal was selected to replace a player who landed on the COVID IL, he can be removed from the 40-man roster without being exposed to waivers whenever one of the players on the COVID list is ready to return.
5:52 pm: The Red Sox are placing closer Matt Barnes on the COVID-19 injured list, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). He becomes the fourth Boston player to land on the IL for virus-related reasons in recent days, as each of Kiké Hernández, Christian Arroyo and Martín Pérez tested positive. It isn’t yet clear whether Barnes has also tested positive.
Barnes has had a productive season on the whole, tossing 49 2/3 innings of 3.81 ERA/2.34 SIERA ball. He was absolutely lights-out early in the year, though, but has run into some uncharacteristic struggles in recent weeks. Dating back to the All-Star Break, Barnes has been tagged for a 7.71 ERA over sixteen appearances, allowing a .283/.383/.543 opponents’ slash line.
With Barnes out, Boston figures to lean more heavily on Adam Ottavino, Garrett Whitlock and Josh Taylor in high-leverage situations. With a little less than five weeks to play in the regular season, Boston currently holds a two and a half game advantage over the A’s for the American League’s final playoff spot. They’re beginning a four-game series with the Rays tonight, followed by sets against the Indians, Rays again, and White Sox through next Sunday.