The Red Sox have acquired infielder Adalberto Mondesi and a player to be named later or cash considerations from the Royals in exchange for left-handed reliever Josh Taylor, the club announced earlier Tuesday afternoon.
This is the second trade the Red Sox and Royals have made this winter, as Boston previously sent pitching prospect Jacob Wallace to Kansas City for reliever Wyatt Mills last month.
Unlike that trade, though, Tuesday’s deal represents a swap of two major-league caliber players who are both coming off injury-plagued 2022 seasons. Mondesi was limited to just 15 games with the Royals last year before suffering a torn left ACL in late April that ultimately required season-ending surgery. Taylor, on the other hand, did not pitch at all for the Red Sox due to complications from a low back strain.
Mondesi, 27, is the son of former big-league outfielder Raul Mondesi. The Dominican Republic native originally signed with the Royals as an international free agent coming out of San Cristobal in July 2011. He was regarded as one of the top prospects in Kansas City’s farm system before becoming the first player in MLB history to make his debut during the World Series in 2015.
In parts of seven seasons with the Royals, Mondesi was limited to just 358 total games. He was handed down a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs as a rookie in 2016 and has since been hindered by injuries. In 2018, for instance, Mondesi missed time with a right shoulder impingement. The following year, he was sidelined with a groin strain and left shoulder subluxation. After avoiding the injured list completely during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Mondesi was hampered by a left hamstring strain and strained left oblique.
When healthy, though, Mondesi has been able to put his tools on full display. The switch-hitter owns a career .244/.280/.408 slash line to go along with 54 doubles, 20 triples, 38 home runs, 157 RBIs, 180 runs scored, 133 stolen bases, 60 walks, and 412 strikeouts across 1,366 big-league plate appearances. As far as speed is concerned, he led all of baseball with 10 triples and stole a career-best 43 bases in 2019, then led the American League with 24 steals in 2020. Prior to tearing his left ACL last April, Mondesi went 7-for-50 (.140) at the plate with three RBIs, three runs scored, five stolen bases, four walks, and 20 strikeouts in his first 15 games of the year.
Defensively, Mondesi has past experience at every infield position besides first base. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder saw the majority of his playing time in Kansas City come at shortstop, where he accrued 23 outs above average and an ultimate zone rating of 13.3 over 2,126 career innings.
Mondesi, who turns 28 in July, will earn $3.045 million in 2023 after agreeing to a deal with the Royals to avoid arbitration last month. He is currently slated to become a free agent for the first time in his career next winter. In the meantime, Mondesi figures to provide the Red Sox with versatile infield depth since he can play all over the diamond and hits from both sides of the plate.
With Trevor Story expected to be sidelined well into the 2023 season after undergoing right elbow surgery, Enrique Hernandez will step in as the club’s starting shortstop while Christian Arroyo will handle things at second base. Mondesi, meanwhile, can handle both positions in place of Hernandez and Arroyo depending on other factors such as infield/outfield alignments and pitching matchups.
The Red Sox were able to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Mondesi by trading away Taylor, who they originally acquired from the Diamondbacks as the player to be named later in the March 2018 trade that sent infielder Deven Marrero to Arizona.
Taylor first broke in with Boston in May 2019 and impressed as a rookie by forging a 3.04 ERA in 52 appearances (47 1/3 innings) out of the bullpen. The southpaw was then limited to just eight outings in 2020 due to a bout with COVID-19 and left shoulder tendinitis, but he bounced back in 2021 by posting a 3.40 ERA (2.83 FIP) with 60 strikeouts to 23 walks over 61 relief appearances spanning 47 2/3 innings of work.
Despite those strong results, Taylor first began experiencing back issues towards the tail end of the 2021 campaign. As a result, he began the 2022 season on the injured list and never got healthy enough to return to the Red Sox. He made a total of eight rehab outings between Triple-A Worcester and Double-A Portland, but was shut down from throwing in mid-July.
Taylor was still tendered a contract in November, but he clearly became expandable for the Red Sox on account of his inability to stay on the mound as of late. The 29-year-old will earn a salary of $1.025 million with the Royals in 2023 and will not be eligible for free agency until the end of the 2025 season.
(Picture of Adalberto Mondesi: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)