The Red Sox and Raimel Tapia have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract for the 2023 season, as was first reported by the free agent outfielder himself on Instagram. Jon Heyman of the New York Post later confirmed it was a minors pact that presumably comes with an invite to major-league spring training.
Tapia, who turns 29 next month, spent the 2022 season with the Blue Jays. The left-handed hitter batted .265/.292/.380 with 20 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 52 RBIs, 47 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 16 walks, and 81 strikeouts over 128 games (433 plate appearances) for Toronto. He was projected to earn a $5.2 million salary in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility in 2023, but was instead non-tendered in November.
In six games against the Red Sox at Fenway Park last year, Tapia went 9-for-30 (.300) with one double, one triple, two home runs, and 12 RBIs. He most notably hit an inside-the-park grand slam that center fielder Jarren Duran lost in the lights in the third inning of Boston’s historic 28-5 blowout loss to Toronto on July 22.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Tapia originally signed with the Rockies as an international free agent coming out of San Pedro de Macoris in November 2010. He broke in with Colorado in 2016 and spent the first six years of his big-league career there before being dealt to the Blue Jays in exchange for fellow outfielder Randal Grichuk last March.
So, for his career, Tapia is a lifetime .277/.318/.392 hitter with 91 doubles, 15 triples, 26 homers, 188 runs driven in, 233 runs scored, 53 stolen bases, 103 walks, and 343 strikeouts in 567 games (1,858 plate appearances) between the Rockies and Blue Jays over seven major-league seasons. He stole a career-high 20 stolen bases while with Colorado in 2021.
Defensively, Tapia has prior experience at all three outfield positions. Last year in particular, the 6-foot-3, 175-pounder logged 459 innings in left, 249 2/3 innings in center, and 226 2/3 innings in right. He tallied four outfield assists altogether and ranked in the 83rd percentile in arm strength (averaged 90.1 mph on his throws), per Baseball Savant.
Tapia should have the chance to compete for a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster as a left-handed hitting bench option once spring training begins next month. The Red Sox already have an outfield mix that includes Masataka Yoshida, Alex Verdugo, Rob Refsnyder, and Jarren Duran. With Enrique Hernandez expected to move back to the middle infield to cover for the injured Trevor Story, the newly-signed Adam Duvall is slated to take over in center field. Add in other non-roster invitees such as Narciso Crook and Greg Allen, and the Sox’ outfield picture suddenly becomes quite crowded.
(Picture of Raimel Tapia: Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)