Red Sox to hire Kyle Hudson as first base coach, per report

The Red Sox are hiring Guardians outfield coach Kyle Hudson as their new first base coach, according to Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam.

Hudson, who turns 36 next week, has spent the last three seasons in Cleveland working as an assistant under Terry Francona. He originally joined the Guardians organization as a minor-league coach in 2017 and served as the bench coach for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate in Columbus in 2019 before making the jump to the major-league level in 2020.

A native of Mattoon, Ill., Hudson played both football (as a wide receiver) and baseball (as an outfielder) at Illinois. He was selected by the Orioles in in the fourth round of the 2008 amateur draft and debuted for Baltimore in September 11. As part of a brief 14-game cameo, the left-handed hitter went 4-for-28 (.143) at the plate with two RBIs, three runs scored, and two stolen bases.

For his minor-league career, Hudson spent time with five different organizations (Orioles, Phillies, Rays, Angels, and Dodgers) over the course of eight seasons (2008-2015). He briefly coached at his alma meter before first joining the Guardians as a coach in 2017.

The Red Sox had a vacancy at the first base coach position after Ramon Vazquez was promoted to bench coach. That promotion came in the wake of Will Venable leaving the organization to become the Rangers’ associate manager in mid-November.

With the addition of Hudson, Boston has finished filling out its coaching staff for the 2023 season. Hitting coach Pete Fatse, assistant hitting coaches Luis Ortiz and Ben Rosenthal, pitching coach Dave Bush, bullpen coach Kevin Walker, third base coach Carlos Febles, field coordinator Andy Fox, and game-planning coordinator Jason Varitek will all be back in the same roles on Alex Cora’s staff.

(Picture of Kyle Hudson: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Triston Casas provides update on knee injury, looks ahead to 2023

Nearly 10 weeks after a bout with knee soreness resulted in him being pulled out of the Dominican Winter League, Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas says he is in good spirits.

“The knee is feeling better,” Casas told Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette on Friday. “It was a little bit of a scare when I was in the Dominican. I tried to play through it a little bit, assuming that it was just a kink because I hadn’t played in 10 days between the end of the big league season and the first game of that season.”

The Red Sox sent Casas to play winter ball in the Dominican in an effort to get him more at-bats. The 22-year-old went 2-for-9 (.222) with five RBIs in his first three games with the Tigres del Licey before being shut down in mid-October. He flew back to Boston shortly thereafter and underwent an MRI that revealed no structural damage.

While there was initially some optimism that Casas would be able to return to Licey’s lineup, that ultimately never happened and he instead recuperated from home in Florida.

“It healed up well,” Casas said in regards to resting his knee. “I’m starting to run, starting to sprint and progressing back to pretty much being 100-percent healthy.”

At home with his family in Pembroke Pines, Casas has begun incorporating more baseball activities into his offseason workouts as he prepares for the start of spring training in February.

“I’m progressing well with all my workouts and my swing progression has been on point,” said Casas. “I’m starting to incorporate some defensive drills. Defense for me is a lot of footwork, so I’ve been working on my agility and I’m confident it will translate onto the field.”

Casas, who turns 23 next month, enters the 2023 season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The left-handed hitter made his major-league debut in September and displayed quality plate discipline in the process of batting .197/.358/.408 with one double, five home runs, 12 RBIs, 11 runs scored, one stolen base, 19 walks, and 23 strikeouts in his first 27 games (95 plate appearances) with the Red Sox.

Because of what he showed down the stretch this year, the Red Sox now view Casas as their first baseman of the future. They made that much clear when they designated fellow left-handed hitting first baseman Eric Hosmer for assignment last week and officially released him on Thursday.

“Our roster isn’t complete yet,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said in a recent conversation with MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. “But as we build our club, we feel it’s important to give Triston a clear lane, and that carrying two left-handed hitting first basemen would leave us short in other areas.”

Despite that vote of confidence from the club’s top decision maker, Casas understands that he will still have to earn the starting job at first base once he reports to Fort Myers. At the same time, though, the former first-round draft pick out of American Heritage High School in 2018 looks at his past track record in the minors as a reason why he should find success in the majors.

“It gives me chills just thinking about it,” Casas said. “It’s something I’ve been working towards for a very long time. I feel really confident that I’m going to do well. At this point in my career I’ve been able to succeed at every level and I don’t anticipate the major-leagues being any different. I make adjustments really well and I’m ready.”

Casas very well could have debuted for the Red Sox before rosters expanded in September, but he missed a significant amount of time (roughly two months) while with Triple-A Worcester due to a high right ankle sprain sustained in mid-May. That was one of the reasons why he went to play winter ball in the Dominican.

“Initially, I was really upset because I felt like I was on the verge of getting into a groove and potentially making a case to make the (big-league) roster,” said Casas. “But (the injury) put everything into perspective.”

After a brief rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League, Casas returned to Worcester on July 22. He slashed a stout .296/.404/.504 with five homers and 16 RBIs while playing above-average defense at first in 36 games (161 plate appearances) with the WooSox before getting called up to Boston on Sept. 4.

Although his surface level numbers — such as a .766 OPS — don’t necessarily jump off the chart, Casas did impress when it came to driving the ball to all fields as well as taking ball four. His 20.0 percent walk rate, for instance, ranked first among all American League rookies who made at least 90 trips to the plate in 2022, per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox were encouraged by Casas’ patient approach, among other things, which is why they felt comfortable enough to move on from Hosmer. That being said, there are some concerns when it comes to Casas’ durability seeing he dealt with two lower-body injuries this year alone. In an effort to combat these issues which have hindered his ability to swing a bat in the past, the 6-foot-5, 255-pounder noted that he has been trying to find the ideal playing weight for himself moving forward.

“During the season you lose weight, but right now I feel good where I’m at,” Casas said. “I’m going to try to stay at this weight, continue to get stronger and more agile and faster at this weight. My swing feels strong and fast, so I don’t feel the need to go on a diet, or try to bulk up at this point of my career. Right now 6-foot-5, 255 pounds is solid.”

Casas told McDonald that he is focused on his future with the Red Sox. The Red Sox, for their part, could look to lock in Casas — who is not yet eligible for salary arbitration — to a long-term contract extension before the 2023 season begins.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox designate Eric Hosmer for assignment, likely ending first baseman’s time in Boston after just 14 games

After acquiring right-handed reliever Wyatt Mills from the Royals on Friday night, the Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster. They did so by designating veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer for assignment.

Hosmer was acquired from the Padres (with minor-leaguers Corey Rosier and Max Ferguson) in exchange for pitching prospect Jay Groome in early August. The 33-year-old was initially going to be traded to the Nationals as part of the package that netted the Padres Juan Soto and Josh Bell, but he exercised his limited no-trade clause and Luke Voit was sent in his place.

The Red Sox then jumped in on the opportunity to nab Hosmer, who signed off on the move. As part of the four-player swap, Boston would only owe Hosmer the league minimum while San Diego would be responsible for the rest of his contract.

To that point in the season, the Red Sox had gotten little production out of their first basemen, namely Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero. Hosmer, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, was brought in to provide some stability at the position. He made his Boston debut on Aug. 4 and batted .225/.311/.300 with three doubles, four RBIs, six runs scored, four walks, and nine strikeouts in his first 12 games (45 plate appearances) with the club before hitting the injured list with low back inflammation on Aug. 23.

While Hosmer was sidelined, the Red Sox called up top first-base prospect Triston Casas from Triple-A Worcester in early September. The 22-year-old impressed to some degree down the stretch, as he slashed .197/.358/.408 with one double, five home runs, 12 RBIs, 11 runs scored, one stolen base, 19 walks, and 23 strikeouts over 27 games (95 plate appearances). Hosmer, on the other hand, returned from the injured list in early October and went 2-for-5 (.400) in two games against the Rays before season’s end.

The Red Sox entered the offseason with four first basemen on their 40-man roster (or five if you include Christian Arroyo). Last month, they did not tender a contract to Cordero, who has since signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles. They have also made Dalbec available in trade talks. Hosmer unsurprisingly opted into the final three years and $39 million of the eight-year, $144 million deal he originally received from the Padres in February 2018. Casas injured himself in winter ball but projects to be the team’s Opening Day first baseman in 2023.

Both Casas and Hosmer hit from the left side of the plate and primarily play first base, so rostering the two of them would have been difficult due to their redundancy. The Red Sox clearly view Casas — who turns 23 in January — as their first baseman of the future while Hosmer was viewed as more of an insurance policy. Keeping Hosmer on the roster was not impossible, but the kind of offensive production he has provided of late does not make him an ideal designated hitter candidate, either.

“Our roster isn’t complete yet, but as we build our club, we feel it’s important to give Triston a clear lane, and that carrying two left-handed hitting first basemen would leave us short in other areas,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo on Friday night. “Given that, it’s important to do right by Eric and give him time to find his next opportunity. We knew when we first got him that this day would come at some point, and wanted to make sure we treated him right.”

Instead of holding onto Hosmer going into the spring, the Red Sox — as explained by Bloom— elected to cut bait now. Boston now has the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Hosmer, who can reject any move since he gained a full no-trade clause after being dealt by the Padres. Though Hosmer, who turns 34 in October, is slated to earn $13 million per year over the next three years, he can be had for the major-league minimum since San Diego remains on the hook for the bulk of the $39 million that is still owed to him. That in itself could make the former All-Star appealing to other teams in need of an experienced first baseman. If all else fails, Bloom and Co. could simply elect to release Hosmer, which would allow him to hit the open market and sign elsewhere as a free agent.

With Hosmer out of the picture, the Red Sox now seem poised to pursue a right-handed hitting corner infielder who could complement Casas at first base and would be an upgrade over Dalbec, who posted a .652 OPS in 117 games this past season.

Hosmer, for what it’s worth, becomes the third player Boston has designated for assignment this week, joining the likes of infielder/outfielder Hoy Park (who has since been traded to the Braves) and infielder Jeter Downs, who will likely get traded to or be claimed by another team in the coming days.

(Picture of Eric Hosmer: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have had some talks’ with free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland about potential reunion, per report

The Red Sox have ‘had some talks’ with free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland about a potential reunion, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Cotillo reported over the weekend that the Sox would like to add ‘a left-handed hitting bench bat’ to complement the right-handed hitting Bobby Dalbec at first base.

Moreland, a left-handed hitter, obviously fits that mold.

The 35-year-old spent 3 1/2 seasons with Boston — signing three separate contracts with the club — from 2017 until August 2020, at which point he was dealt to the San Diego Padres.

Moreland was having a superb year up until that trade, posting a .328/.430/.746 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 21 RBI over 20 games and 73 plate appearances.

That level of production decreased significantly upon Moreland’s arrival in San Diego, but you can make the argument that the Red Sox benefitted immensely from jettisoning one of their hottest players at the plate.

For one, trading Moreland opened up a spot for Dalbec to get called up regularly play first base for the remainder of the 2020 campaign. The 25-year-old rookie went on to crush eight homers himself while collecting 16 RBI in just 23 games (92 PAs) in his first go-around in the majors.

Second, in return for Moreland, Boston received infield prospect Hudson Potts and outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario from San Diego. The two minor-leaguers are currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as top-20 prospects within the Sox’ farm system after both were added to the club’s 40-man roster in November.

Moreland, meanwhile, struggled in his new role with the Padres, as previously mentioned. And even though he did not perform at the highest of levels, it still came as somewhat of a surprise to see the Friars decline the former All-Star’s $3 million club option for the 2021 season this past fall.

So, the Red Sox got two of their better prospects in exchange for a few weeks of Moreland’s services. Not too shabby.

Now that Moreland is once again a free-agent and still remains unsigned, though, a reunion between the two sides certainly seems palpable.

The Gold Glove-caliber first baseman was revered as a clubhouse leader in his time with Boston who was more than capable of coming up in clutch spots when needed.

At this stage of his career, Moreland likely is not looking to be an everyday player, and could even be willing to take a backseat to someone like Dalbec while also DH’ing and coming off the bench in pinch-hitting situations.

If the two were to form some sort of platoon, Moreland does own a lifetime .256/.325/.469 slash line against right-handed pitching.

It also doesn’t hurt that, even before these rumors emerged, the Mississippi State product talked to fellow former Bulldog Hunter Renfroe about what it was like to play in Boston before the newest Red Sox outfielder signed with the club in December.

At the end of the day, whether Moreland returns to the Sox is presumably dependent on A. what his market looks like and B. how the Red Sox front office views him.

Moreland was one of the first free-agents Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom signed to a major-league contract, so there is a connection there.

Moreland’s bond with Red Sox manager Alex Cora cannot be forgotten about, either.

Then again, as Cotillo tweeted, other options — such as Brad Miller and Marwin Gonzalez — are in the mix as well.

(Picture of Mitch Moreland: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox would like to address bench depth by adding left-handed hitter, per report

While the Red Sox continue to fill out their major-league roster, one area of concern they would like to address between now and Opening Day is bench depth, or more specifically, adding a left-handed hitter who could come off the bench, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Per Cotillo, it would be ideal if this left-handed bat could complement the right-handed hitting Bobby Dalbec at first base. Among the free-agents who could do this, Cotillo notes that Marwin Gonzalez, Brad Miller, and old friend Mitch Moreland stand out above the rest.

Gonzalez, a switch-hitter, spent the 2020 season with the Twins and played 23 games at third base, 21 games at second base, nine games at first base, and eight games in right field.

When facing right-handed pitching as a left-handed hitter last year, the 31-year-old slashed .209/.295/.357 to go along with five home runs and 16 RBI over 132 plate appearances.

For his career, which spans nine seasons, Gonzalez is a lifetime .261/.321/.411 hitter off of right-handers when hitting from the left side of the batter’s box.

Cotillo linked the Venezuelan-born utilityman to the Sox earlier this month, citing that Boston ‘was in’ on Gonzalez. One reason for this is likely because of the relationship Gonzalez has with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who served as the versatile veteran’s bench coach for the Houston Astros in 2017.

Miller, meanwhile, hits strictly from the left side of the plate and is also capable of playing several defensive positions.

Last year with the Cardinals, the 31-year-old played every infield position besides first base, which he has done in the past.

In 48 games (171 plate appearances) with St. Louis, Miller posted a solid .807 OPS while clubbing seven homers and 25 RBI.

Narrowing that down to what he did against right-handed pitching — when he got most of his playing time — in 2020, the Orlando native proved to be quite effective by posting a .240/.364/.464 slash line. Six of his seven home runs on the year came against righties.

Over the course of his eight-year big-league career, Miller owns a lifetime wRC+ of 111 off of right-handed pitching, which pales in comparison to his lifetime wRC+ of 84 off of left-handed pitching.

Unlike Gonzalez, Miller does not have a connection to Cora, but he does have one to Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

That being the case because the former Clemson Tiger spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Rays from 2016 until June 2018, so it’s likely he and Bloom got to know each other a little bit during their time together in Tampa.

On Friday night, Cotillo tweeted that Miller was a guy the Red Sox “are looking at,” so there’s that.

Finally, we arrive at someone who has a connection to both Bloom and Cora in Moreland, who spent 3 1/2 seasons with the Sox on three separate contracts before being dealt to the Padres in late August.

That trade turned out to be a win for Bloom and Co., as they received prospects Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario in exchange for Moreland while San Diego declined the 35-year-old’s club option for 2021 in early November.

The move also cleared up a spot for Dalbec to get the call up from the alternate training site and make his major-league debut. It’s safe to say the 25-year-old made the most of that opportunity.

Before said three-player trade went down, Moreland was on an absolute tear to kick off his 2020 campaign in Boston after re-signing with the club in January.

Over the course of 22 games, the Mississippi native slashed a robust .328/.430/.746 in addition to clobbering eight homers and driving in 21 RBI in just 79 plate appearances.

Moreland’s playing time decreased when he arrived in San Diego, as did his on-field performance, but the former All-Star could still prove to be a valuable, veteran addition to the Red Sox if he were willing to embrace a bench role and maybe even mentor Dalbec.

While being limited to just first base, designated hitter, and pinch-hit duties, the left-handed hitting Moreland does carry with him a career OPS of .794 against right-handed pitching.

He was also one of Bloom’s first free-agent signings as Boston’s CBO last January and is lauded as an impact leader and veteran presence by Red Sox players and coaches — Cora included — alike.

Last week, Cotillo wrote that a reunion between Moreland and the Sox cannot be ruled out at this point, so that is also something to monitor.

At the end of the day, it would appear that while the Red Sox may be ready to make Dalbec their everyday first baseman, they do not want to put too much on his plate to at least start off the 2021 campaign.

The power-hitting prospect did well against both lefties and righties in his first go-around in the majors last September, but there remains a a possibility that Boston would like to see him play some third base (his natural position) in addition to first base as well.

In that scenario, if there was a game where the Red Sox wanted to sit Rafael Devers for whatever reason, they could slide Dalbec over to third while Moreland, Miller, Gonzalez, or another free-agent/in-house candidate could man first base in his place.

That is all just speculation, though. We will just have to wait and see what Bloom and Co. actually have in mind for Boston’s infield plans moving forward.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Triston Casas ranked No. 2 first-base prospect in baseball by MLB.com

While the Red Sox continue to build up their farm system under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, one of the club’s most highly-touted minor-leaguers was recently ranked by MLB.com as one of the best first base prospects in baseball

His name? Triston Casas.

According to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, Casas is the No. 2 first base prospect in the game behind only the White Sox’ Andrew Vaughn, who’s more than a full year older than him, headed into the 2021 season.

Among the top-10 first base prospects Mayo listed — Vaughn, Casas, Aaron Sabato (MIN), Seth Beer (ARI), Lewin Diaz (MIA), Michael Toglia (COL), Bobby Bradley (CLE), Nick Pratto (KC), Pavin Smith (ARI), Mason Martin (PIT) — Casas has one of the best power and arm strength tools.

“The 6-foot-5 Casas has the perfect combination of strength, size, bat speed and leverage for plus power, with the advanced approach to get to it consistently,” Mayo wrote of the 21-year-old’s slugging abilities.

Last we saw Casas in any organized minor-league action, the 2018 first-round draft pick clubbed 20 home runs and drove in 81 RBI in 120 games and 500 plate appearances between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem in 2019. He also posted a solid .256/.350/.480 slash line en route to being named an organizational All-Star.

As for what he is capable of doing defensively, Mayo notes that Casas pitched and played third base as an amateur at American Heritage High School in South Florida, which therefore “allows him to do more with his arm” while playing first base.

Per FanGraphs, Casas logged 834 2/3 total innings at first base with Greenville and Salem in ’19 as opposed to just 67 innings at the hot corner in Greenville alone.

With the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Casas, like so many other prospects, were forced to continue their development in an unfamiliar setting.

The Red Sox added the left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing infielder to their player pool in late August, allowing him to participate at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket for the remainder of the major-league season.

While in Pawtucket for just over a month, Casas again showed off his power at the plate as well as the rest of his skillset. Many came away impressed with what he did, including Worcester Red Sox manager Billy McMillon.

Casas is very intriguing to me,” McMillon said when speaking with reporters back in October. “Can play both corner positions. I think he’s probably going to settle in at first base. His discipline at the plate is incredible. His approach was a little bit different than what you might see with some of the guys today. He spread out, he choked up. Wasn’t afraid to hit the ball the other way. He definitely has an idea at the plate. I really like how intelligent he was at the plate. He was a guy who really benefitted from coming up, facing Triple-A/Four-A type pitching. He held his own, had very good at-bats, walked a lot. Defense, I think he’s going to be solid. I think we’ve got a good one with Triston.”

When watching Casas go to work at the plate, you will likely notice that he takes a unique approach to doing things, especially with two strikes in the count, as McMillon alluded to in the above quote.

That would be the case because as a left-handed hitter, Casas tries to somewhat take after Cincinnati Reds star and fellow first baseman Joey Votto.

“Growing up, I loved watching Joey Votto,” Casas said via Zoom this past September. “I love his approach, I love his swing, I love the way he approaches the game, and the way he he takes his at-bats are second to none. The stats speak for themselves. He was one of the best hitters of the 2010s, and that’s when I was growing up watching baseball. Being a left-handed first baseman, Joey Votto’s not a bad guy to emulate. I don’t really try to copy everything that he does, but the other day I hit a home run in a sim game and looking back on it, I was like, ‘Wow, I actually do look like Joey Votto.’ So, growing up I really liked watching him play

“The choke-up on the bat and the two-strike approach, it was just something that I watched him do and I tried it out for myself and I liked the results that I was getting,” he added. “I liked the way it felt in the box. I liked the way I would compete when I did formulate a good two-strike approach, and I’m looking to keep hearing that because I’m feeling really comfortable right now.”

Following the conclusion of alternate training site workouts, Casas was one of about 63 minor-leaguers who were invited to take part in the Red Sox’ fall instructional league down in Fort Myers.

There, per SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall, the Florida native was arguably the best infielder at camp and the most impressive position player behind only outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez.

Currently regarded by SoxProspects as Boston’s top-ranked prospect, the 6-foot-5, 250 lber is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland.

That said, it seems possible that the Sox would want to include Casas and some of their other top prospects in major-league spring training for MLB/Triple-A players starting next month with minor-league camp for Class-A/Double-A players being pushed back until later in the spring.

With that scenario in mind, prospects such as Casas and Jeter Downs, among others, could potentially start the year at Triple-A Worcester. @RedSoxStats was one of the first to put that possibility out there.

That scenario remains just a mere possibility at this point, though, and as most things have gone regarding minor-league baseball recently, we will have to wait and see how it all transpires before determining which player will go where.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Could Red Sox trade Bobby Dalbec in order to upgrade pitching staff?

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.

Red Sox’ Chaim Bloom values Bobby Dalbec’s versatility, is still confident in Rafael Devers’ defensive abilities at third base

Since making his major-league debut in 2017, Rafael Devers has tried to prove that he is capable of being a competent third baseman defensively, but has struggled thus far in doing so.

This past season alone, the 24-year-old logged 475 innings at the hot corner and was worth -6 defensive runs saved (DRS), the worst mark among qualified American League third baseman, according to FanGraphs.

Devers’ defensive difficulties have led to speculation that the Dominican-born slugger could eventually move over to first base, especially now with the emergence of Bobby Dalbec.

Dalbec, who was called up for the first time in late August and saw the majority of his playing time come at first, is capable of playing both corner infield positions adequately, and the Red Sox certainly value his versatility moving forward.

That being said, don’t expect Devers and Dalbec to swap primary positions anytime soon, as Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom still has faith in the former’s abilities with the glove.

“We know Raffy is capable of a lot more than he showed in 2020,” Bloom said when speaking to reporters via Zoom Wednesday. “I think he knows that. Everybody who has seen him knows that. You guys know the bond Alex [Cora] has with him, and that is already something we’ve discussed in making sure that we’re doing everything we can to help him be in position to play a really good third base, as he has done in the past.

“I think the early indications, from the offseason, are that Raffy is preparing himself to do that,” added Bloom. “It was obviously a tough summer. The way the season started back up, he never really got going — he was never really in-sync defensively. He knows that, and now with an offseason ahead of us, we’re really optimistic that he’s going to come into the spring looking very different.”

Despite the hardships Devers endured at third base this past season, he still enjoyed moderate success at the plate as highlighted by his .845 OPS for the month of September.

With Cora back in the fold as Red Sox manager, Devers could in theory return to his 2019 form in which he led the American League in doubles (54) and total bases (359) while finishing 12th in MVP voting.

As for Dalbec, here’s what Bloom had to say about the 25-year-old former top prospect who looks primed to make his first career Opening Day roster next spring:

“With Bobby, we want to be able to maintain his ability to play both [corner infield] positions. 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.”

Per FanGraphs, Dalbec accrued 175 2/3 innings at first base and 15 innings at third base over the course of his rookie season. The former fourth-round draft pick made three errors, all of which came at first. He also hit eight home runs in 23 games, which equates to 56 homers over 162 contests.