Going into the 2020 season, Christian Arroyo likely wasn’t on the Red Sox’ radar.
The 25-year-old infielder opened the year with the Indians and managed to appear in just one game as a defensive replacement before getting designated for assignment on August 6.
A week later, Arroyo was claimed off waivers by Boston. All the while, the club’s brass was watching another former top prospect struggle at the major-league level in the form of Jose Peraza.
Peraza, who inked a one-year deal with the Sox last December after getting non-tendered by the Reds coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign, was viewed as a potential solution to Boston’s lingering second base problem.
The 26-year-old Venezuelan got off to a hot start with his new club by racking up seven hits in his first five games of the year, but eventually cooled off to the point where he was eventually optioned to the alternate training site for the remainder of the season on September 9.
Peraza’s demotion came a day after the Red Sox selected Arroyo’s contract from Pawtucket, thus promoting him to the major-league roster for the first time on September 8.
With more at-bats to be had now that his fellow second baseman had been sent down, Arroyo showed glimpses of his potential and reminded everyone why the Giants took him with the 25th overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft.
In 14 games with the Red Sox, the Tampa native slashed .240/.296/.440 with three home runs and eight RBI over 54 plate appearances, which came with him primarily playing second and batting out of the nine-hole.
Those numbers certainly are not off the charts, and Arroyo would probably be one of the first people to tell you that. But again, the ex-Rays infielder had his moments, and those moments left Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom very impressed with someone he was already familiar with.
“I knew he was a fundamentally sound player,” Bloom said of Arroyo’s potential when speaking with The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams earlier this week. “I knew he had versatility and ability. At the plate, I saw him drive pitches that I’ve never seen him drive before. That was impressive to see. He had a very confident approach at the plate.”
With all the uncertainties surrounding what the Red Sox will do at second base this offseason, Arroyo could emerge as a favorite to land the starting gig next spring. That possibility comes given the notion that Peraza will presumably get non-tendered, Dustin Pedroia will lose his 40-man roster spot, and top prospect Jeter Downs will begin the year in Triple-A.
All that being said, Bloom anticipates Arroyo will get more of a chance to show what he’s capable of once position players report to Fenway South this coming February.
“We were able to give him an opportunity down the stretch but if you look at it in the grand scheme it was not a long [opportunity],” Bloom added. “But it’s still a small sample. Certainly, what he did made you hungry for more.”
Arroyo, who turns 26 in May, is under team control with the Red Sox through the end of the 2024 season.