Could the Red Sox trade power-hitting prospect Bobby Dalbec sometime between now and next season’s trade deadline?
After putting up ridiculous home run numbers in his inaugural season with Boston this year, Dalbec being dealt seems unlikely. However, in a recent article for MLB.com, MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Mike Rosenbaum identified the 25-year-old as a prospect the Sox could trade:
Dalbec’s power, arm and third-base defense are assets, and he homered eight times in 80 at-bats during his big league debut this summer. He could be part of the Red Sox’s future, but he’s also blocked by Rafael Devers at third base and could be used to acquire some much-needed pitching.
Called up from the alternate training site in late August, Dalbec burst onto the scene at the major-league level almost immediately. In 23 games played, the former fourth-round draft pick slashed .263/.359/.600 (152 wRC+) to go along with eight home runs and 16 RBI over 92 plate appearances. In terms of isolated power (.338), he was the Sox’ most dangerous hitter from August 30 through the end of September, per FanGraphs.
All that being said, Dalbec’s success didn’t come without its deterrents. The University of Arizona product punched out 39 times in his 92 plate appearances (42.4 K%), good for the highest strikeout rate among qualified major-league rookies. He still managed to boast a .359 on-base percentage despite all the swings-and-misses, but those strikeout numbers are nonetheless still concerning.
Seeing how this was his first taste of Major League Baseball, the Red Sox could sell high on Dalbec this winter if they so choose. As mentioned in the excerpt above, the right-handed hitting infielde is naturally a third baseman, and he is currently blocked at that position by Rafael Devers, hence the move over to first base.
Of course, one could make the argument that Dalbec established himself as Boston’s everyday first baseman moving forward thanks to what he did at the plate this past season.
With Dalbec, there comes roster flexibility as well, or more specifically, the ability to play both corner infield positions at a quality level defensively. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much about Dalbec last month.
“With Bobby, we want to be able to maintain his ability to play both [corner infield] positions,” said Bloom. “I think the versatility is going to be great for him. That could be important on day one or it could be important in a year or two years. The fact that he is capable [of playing third] is huge. You never want somebody who has the ability to play other positions to be pigeonholed at first base.”
It would appear that Bloom is high on Dalbec, who will enter the 2021 season looking to graduate from his top prospect status.
The Red Sox may be a team in need of starting pitching and bullpen help, that much is true. But is it worth subtracting from the major-league roster in order to make that happen? Is filling one hole in the club’s roster makeup worth creating another one?
Sure, there are options, internal and external, who could take Dalbec’s place and play first base for the Sox. However, as the team enters the next stage of its rebuild/transition process under Bloom, Dalbec should be the primary guy at that position for 2021 and maybe even beyond.