Christian Arroyo came into spring training this year looking to prove he deserved a spot on the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster.
The 25-year-old infielder was originally claimed off waivers by Boston from the Indians last August, and after finally making his team debut a month later, he showed flashes of his potential.
Over a limited 14-game sample, Arroyo posted a .240/.296/.446 slash line to go along with three home runs and eight RBI over 14 games and 54 plate appearances. He played second base and shortstop.
The Florida native made it through the offseason without losing his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, but he came into the spring in a somewhat precarious position given the fact he is out of minor-league options.
In other words, Arroyo has to make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster. Otherwise, he would have to be exposed to waivers if the club wanted to send him down to the minors.
With that proposition in mind, Arroyo has been one of Boston’s more impressive performers at the plate thus far in Grapefruit League play in southwest Florida.
Following a 1-for-2 showing in a pinch-hitting capacity on Wednesday, the right-handed hitter is slashing .290/.333/.516 with a pair of homers and four RBI through his first 33 plate appearances of the spring.
It wasn’t too long ago that Arroyo, formerly a first-round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants, was one of the top prospects in baseball. He was even included in the blockbuster trade that sent Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Giants in December 2017.
Arroyo did not do much in his time in Tampa Bay, as he appeared in just 36 total games between 2018 and early 2019 on account of multiple stints on the injured list before being dealt to Cleveland in July 2019.
Despite not playing too much with the Rays, though, the young middle infielder still established a relationship with Chaim Bloom, then Tampa Bay’s senior vice president of baseball operations.
That relationship carried over to Bloom’s first season as Red Sox chief baseball officer last year, as was highlighted when Arroyo was claimed by the club.
Since then, the two have surely gotten to know each other even better, and Bloom’s been impressed with what he’s seen from Arroyo going back to September.
“He looks, to me, better than at any point that we had him when I was with the Rays,” Bloom told WEEI’s Will Flemming and Rob Bradford earlier Wednesday. “Body-wise, he came in looking good. And I’ve seen him — whether it was last year or this spring — drive pitches that I didn’t see him drive in the past and just hit them harder.”
Despite the obvious connection he was with Arroyo from their time in Tampa Bay, Bloom was quick to not take all the credit when it came to acquiring the Hernando High School product in the first place.
“This is one where I think because of the connection and with the past, to the extent that it works I’ll be getting a lot of credit,” Bloom said. “But I would want to credit a lot of our crew in the front office for when this guy became available. Identifying him, doing work to see what was under the hood, and seeing some bat potential in there that he hadn’t realized.
“It was tough for him because he couldn’t stay healthy — either at the major-league level or Triple-A — for a couple of years,” he added. “So you’re kind of piecing together different samples, trying to look under the hood, figuring is there still some life to his player, who has a very good prospect pedigree. And we all felt strongly that it was worth taking the chance.”
With Danny Santana being sidelined while recovering from a right foot infection and Yairo Munoz being reassigned to minor-league camp on Wednesday, Arroyo would seem to have the edge on obtaining one of the final spots on the Sox’ 26-man Opening Day roster.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora has already made it clear that the club is planning to roll with 14 pitchers and 12 position players to kick off the 2021 campaign, so it should be interesting to see how Arroyo plays into that equation in the coming weeks.
(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Mark Brown/Getty Images)