Red Sox Top Prospect Bobby Dalbec Joins Club’s Taxi Squad in Tampa Bay for Series Against Rays

Top prospect Bobby Dalbec has joined the Red Sox for the final leg of their seven-game road trip in Tampa Bay this week, although the 25-year-old will be part of the club’s taxi squad, not their active roster, according to ABC6’s Ian Steele and The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

This news comes as Dalbec was not present at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket on Monday, as he was likely on a flight to St. Petersburg instead.

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 3 prospect, the 6-foot-4, 227 lb. corner infielder was cleared to return to baseball activities last month after a bout with COVID-19 in which he never experienced any symptoms. He was added to the Sox’ 60-man player pool on July 17 and unlike Darwinzon Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez, or Josh Taylor, avoided a stint on the injured list.

Originally taken by the Sox in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of The University of Arizona, Dalbec, a native of Washington state, has emerged as one of the top power-hitting prospects in the organization. Just last season, he slugged 27 home runs in 135 total games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, Dalbec will not accrue any service time while he is “up” with the club’s taxi squad, but as was the case last September, the right-handed hitter will be able to familiarize himself with the big-league environment once more.

He’ll have to wait a little bit longer to make his major-league debut, but I would have to think Dalbec’s time is coming relatively soon.

Red Sox to Add Chris Mazza, Remove Jonathan Lucroy From Roster Ahead of Wednesday’s Series Opener Against Mets

UPDATE: Jonathan Lucroy has been designated for assignment.

Before taking on the Mets in Queens on Wednesday, the Red Sox will be recalling right-hander Chris Mazza from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings and Ken Rosenthal. In order to make this happen, veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy will be removed from the Sox’ 30-man roster.

A somewhat surprising move considering the player taken off the roster, but on a team that needs plenty of pitching help at the moment, removing another catcher in Lucroy for a fresh arm in Mazza makes plenty of sense for the Red Sox.

Starting with Mazza, the 30-year-old right-hander was left off Boston’s Opening Day squad earlier this month, nearly seven months after he was claimed off waivers from the Mets back in December.

Throughout Summer Camp workouts at Fenway Park, Mazza looked like a potential candidate to open games for the Sox, but instead of including him on the Opening Day roster, the club opted for more unproven pitchers like Dylan Covey or Phillips Valdez instead.

Now, after joining the Sox in New York for this upcoming road trip, Mazza will get the chance to prove he belongs with his new team. He only has nine career major-league relief appearances under his belt, all of which came with the Mets last season.

As for Lucroy, the 34-year-old backstop made the Sox’ Opening Day roster as the club’s third catcher but only got into one game as a defensive replacement against Baltimore last Friday, and as Jennings mentions in the tweet above, never got an at-bat.

At the time he signed a minor-league deal with Boston back in February, it appeared as though Lucroy could legitimately contend with Kevin Plawecki for the Red Sox’ backup catcher spot behind Christian Vazquez.

Both Lucroy and Plawecki were impressive during the spring, and because of the 30-man rosters for the first two weeks of the season that were implemented as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Sox were able to carry all three backstops on their Opening Day squad.

But, as SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall notes, “It didn’t make much sense to carry three catchers when you can have one on the taxi squad, who doesn’t take up a roster spot. With the Red Sox pitching struggles, another arm is much more useful at this point.”

Former Brewers and Angels catcher Jett Bandy will now be the third catcher on the Sox’ taxi squad and will not take up a roster spot in doing so.

Following Wednesday’s moves, the Red Sox could have an open spot on their 40-man roster depending on what happens with Lucroy. Perhaps they could use that opening on someone like Tanner Houck?

Catcher Jett Bandy to Join Red Sox in New York as Part of Club’s Taxi Squad

Veteran catcher Jett Bandy will be joining the Red Sox as a non-roster taxi squad player in New York for the first leg of the club’s upcoming seven-game road trip, manager Ron Roenicke announced following Tuesday night’s 8-3 loss to the Mets.

Per Roenicke, Bandy will be the lone member of the Sox’ taxi squad while the team plays the Mets and Yankees if all goes according to plan. From there, two more players would join the club’s taxi squad for next week’s two-game series against the Rays in St. Petersburg.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, major-league teams this season are allowed to bring a three-man taxi squad with them for all road trips. One of these three players must be a catcher, while the other two can be pitchers or position players. That way, an infected or injured player could be replaced rather easily.

As noted by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, “these three players will be permitted to work out with the team on the road, while the catcher will also be allowed to serve as a bullpen catcher. At the end of the road trip, Taxi Squad players will return to the team’s Alternate Training Site, though the catcher will be permitted to stay with the team as a bullpen catcher for home games.”

In Bandy’s case, the 30-year-old backstop inked a minor-league deal with Boston back in December and was added to the club’s initial 60-man Summer Camp player pool last month.

Across four big-league seasons played with the Angels and Brewers, the California native owns a career .218/.282/.365 slash line to go along with 16 home runs and 45 RBI over 156 total games played from September 14, 2015 until May 23, 2018.

Roenicke was Bandy’s third base coach for a little while there when the two were in Los Angeles.

A former 31st-round pick of the Angels in the 2011 amateur draft out of the University of Arizona, Bandy will not accrue any service time while a member of the Red Sox’ taxi squad, but he will get $108.50 per day, the major-league allowance, on top of his minor-league salary as long as he is “up” with the big-league club.

Red Sox Prospect Jay Groome and the 2020 Rule 5 Draft

Jay Groome is one of 49 Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. That means that he will have to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster before the November deadline in order to avoid being eligible for said draft.

On upside alone, the former 2016 first-round pick will presumably make the cut, and will likely be part of the Sox’ 30-man taxi squad in Pawtucket for the upcoming, truncated 2020 season.

That being said, with it looking more and more likely that there won’t be any organized minor-league baseball at all this year, Groome loses the opportunity to further develop coming off an injury-shortened 2019 campaign.

Recovering from Tommy John surgery underwent in May 2018, the New Jersey native was not able to see any in-game action until last August, where he made a total of three starts between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and short-season Lowell Spinners before the minor-league season came to a close.

A small sample size, the left-hander allowed one run on five hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over four innings of work in those three outings.

Since signing with the Sox out of Barnegat High School in July 2016, Groome has made just 20 starts and pitched 66 innings between three minor-league levels over that time period.

As mentioned earlier, injuries have played a factor in that. Not only did Groome undergo Tommy John surgery in 2018, but before that, he missed time in 2017 due to a strained lat muscle and forearm strain.

Before Major League Baseball shut down spring training in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed as though Groome was looking forward to the full season of work ahead of him at the time.

He told WEEI’s Rob Bradford earlier in the year, “I have my family pushing me because they know I’m back where I need to be. I’m healthy. They just want to see me finally start up a full season again. It has been a long time.”

Things have obviously changed since then, though, and it would appear that the only in-game action the 21-year-old will see this year will be of the intra-squad variety.

Clubs across MLB have until 4 PM eastern time on Sunday to submit their 60-man player pools, half of which will make up the active roster to begin the season while the other half will serve as a taxi squad that will essentially remain on standby.

Many teams have already announced that a number of their top prospects will make up their respective taxi squads.

Although no official announcement has come from the Red Sox yet, expect Groome, Boston’s seventh-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, to be one of the club’s touted youngsters to make the cut.

Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran, Tanner Houck, Bryan Mata, Thad Ward, and Marcus Wilson are among the other Sox prospects who could also make up the club’s taxi squad.