Red Sox agree to minor-league deal with outfielder Greg Allen

The Red Sox and veteran outfielder Greg Allen have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract for the 2023 season, per ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel. The deal comes with an invitation to major-league spring training.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Allen will earn a base salary of $1.4 million if he reaches the majors with Boston.

Allen, who turns 30 in March, spent the vast majority of the 2022 season with the Pirates. The speedy switch-hitter batted .186/.260/.721 with four doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs, 17 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 10 walks, and 42 strikeouts over 46 games (134 plate appearances) for Pittsburgh before being designated for assignment in late September. He elected free agency after clearing waivers in early October.

A former sixth-round draft pick of the Guardians out of San Diego State University in 2014, Allen first broke in at the big-league level in September 2017. In parts of four seasons with Cleveland, the California native appeared in a total of 220 games and slashed .239/.295/.344 with eight homers, 57 RBIs, 76 runs scored, and 31 stolen bases.

Prior to the 2020 trade deadline, Allen was dealt to the Padres alongside right-hander Mike Clevinger in exchange for a six-player package that included Gabriel Arias, Austin Hedges, Josh Naylor, Owen Miller, and Cal Quantrill. Allen, however, appeared in just one regular season game for San Diego and was designated for assignment that December.

The Yankees acquired Allen from the Padres in a minor trade shortly thereafter. New York outrighted Allen off its 40-man roster in March 2021 before calling him up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in mid-July. In 14 games with the Bronx Bombers, Allen went 10-for-37 (.270) at the plate with four doubles, one triple, two RBIs, nine runs scored, and five stolen bases. He was claimed off waivers by the Pirates that November.

All told, Allen is a lifetime .232/.299/.336 hitter at the major-league level to go along with 30 doubles, seven triples, 10 home runs, 67 runs driven in, 103 runs scored, 45 stolen bases, 45 walks, and 184 strikeouts over 282 total games (800 plate appearances) between the Guardians, Padres, Yankees, and Pirates.

In 172 career games at the Triple-A level, Allen has hit .301/.403/.442 with 37 doubles, four triples, 13 homers, 62 RBIs, 121 runs scored, 48 stolen bases, 65 walks, and 136 punchouts across 710 total trips to the plate.

Defensively, Allen has past experience at all three outfield positions. In 2022, for instance, the 6-foot, 185-pounder logged 140 innings in left field, 92 1/3 innings in center field, and 61 innings in right field. Historically speaking, left field has proven to be Allen’s best position in terms of Defensive Runs Saved (+9) and Outs Above Average (+4), per FanGraphs.

Known for his speed, Allen should provide Boston with some experienced outfield depth at Triple-A Worcester this season if he does not break camp with the big-league club in March. As currently constructed, Masataka Yoshida, Enrique Hernandez, and Alex Verdugo project to be the Red Sox’ primary outfield group in 2023. Hernandez, of course, may be forced to play more infield this year with Trevor Story slated to miss a significant amount of time after undergoing right elbow surgery earlier this week. Behind them, Rob Refsnyder and Jarren Duran — as well as prospects Ceddanne Rafaela, Enmanuel Valdez, Wilyer Abreu — are also on the 40-man roster

Allen, who is out of minor-league options, becomes the seventh player the Red Sox have invited to major-league spring training this winter. He joins the likes of right-hander Norwith Gudino, left-hander Oddanier Mosqueda, catchers Caleb Hamilton and Ronaldo Hernandez, utility man Niko Goodrum, and outfielder Narciso Crook.

(Picture of Greg Allen: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox should consider claiming former Indians outfielder Greg Allen off waivers

So far this offseason, the Red Sox have done a fine job in bolstering their outfield depth.

Slugging outfielder Hunter Renfroe signed a one-year deal with the club last month, while the likes of Cesar Puello and Michael Gettys have been signed to minor-league contracts for 2021.

That being said, you can never have enough depth at any position, and it just so happens an intriguing outfielder technically became available earlier this week. That outfielder’s name? Greg Allen.

The 27-year-old was designated for assignment by the Padres on Thursday in order for the club to make room on its 40-man roster for South Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim.

With San Diego this past season, Allen appeared in just one game after being part of the trade that sent Mike Clevinger from the Indians to the Friars in late August.

Prior to that blockbuster trade, Allen spent parts of four major-league seasons with the Tribe starting in 2017, accruing a .239/.295/.344 slash line to go along with eight home runs, 57 RBI, and 31 stolen bases over 220 total games played.

Seven of those 220 games have come at Fenway Park, where Allen owns a career-best 1.249 OPS over 27 plate appearances.

In addition to providing speed on the base paths, the California native has proven to be a capable major-league defender who can play all three outfield positions adequately.

Looking back at the 2019 campaign, Allen posted a positive-six defensive runs saved and ultimate zone rating of 5.0 while logging 570 1/3 innings — 360 2/3 in left, 132 2/3 in center, 77 in right — in the Indians outfield.

He also ranked sixth among major-league left fielders in sprint speed (29 feet per second) and 44th among major-league outfielders in outs above average (3) in 2019, per Statcast.

Having presented all this information, the Red Sox could very well look into adding Allen to their outfield mix despite the former top prospect’s light-hitting ways.

It’s a scenario that is reminiscent of Christian Arroyo’s over the summer.

Boston claimed the infielder off waivers from the Indians on August 13, promptly designated him for assignment a week later, and then outrighted him on August 23 before purchasing his contract on September 8.

It’s a unique — and somewhat risky — way to go about adding depth, but the Sox managed to do it with Arroyo, who is out of minor-league options, as is the case with Allen.

On top of that, trying to stash Allen away would address an offseason need by bolstering Boston’s outfield defense. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom conveyed this school of thought last month in the wake of the Renfroe signing.

“I always talk about depth and it’s so important, but I do think we still have room to add without straining our roster,” Bloom said when speaking with reporters via Zoom. “The good thing here is we have a number of outfielders who are all good enough athletes to play center field. But we still also have room to augment that with a center fielder or a corner outfielder. So we now have options and different paths we can take. But it would be nice to increase our depth as we go forward.”

Bringing on Allen seems like a potentially sound way for Bloom and Co. to increase the Red Sox’ depth going forward. But, another roster move would be required in order for that to happen.

This is the case because the club’s 40-man roster is currently at full capacity.

To make it clear, this is just a suggestion. Allen won’t clear waivers until late next week, and I’m assuming he doesn’t have enough service time to refuse an outright assignment to the minors given the fact he isn’t supposed to reach free agency until the conclusion of the 2024 season.