Early in 2022, the Boston Red Sox have had major issues at first base. Going forward, what are their options?
In 2021, the Boston Red Sox had 10 different players play at least an inning at first base. These first basemen collectively ranked 20th in wRC+ and 22nd in fWAR among the league’s 30 teams.
With the departure of Kyle Schwarber this offseason, these issues have reappeared. Bobby Dalbec, the starter for the majority of most of last season, and the early season starter this year, has struggled. While strikeouts have plagued Dalbec for the majority of his career, the raw power he has shown has been nonexistent so far this season, having just three extra-base hits in just 71 plate appearances. During these 71 plate appearances, he has struck out 29.6% of the time while walking just 5.6% of the time.
When lacking plate discipline, the power production needs to be there for him to provide any value. Dalbec struggled early last season too, but eventually heated up. However, he still finished with just a .298 OBP, among other concerning trends. Because of the early season struggles, the Red Sox have started to try some other options.
Travis Shaw broke camp with the Red Sox but, after starting the season 0-for-19 without a single walk, he was designated for assignment. Now getting a chance is 27-year-old Franchy Cordero. Cordero, acquired from Kansas City in the Andrew Benintendi trade, has always been an intriguing talent. He has massive raw power and,over the last two seasons, has consistently produced in Triple-A. In the majors for Boston, he has struggled, managing just a 32 wRC+ last season after earning a starting spot after Spring Training. He was called up on Friday following the DFA of Shaw and started against righty Kyle Bradish, going 0-for-4. Expect Cordero to start some games against righties while Dalbec works through his struggles.
One interesting option for the Red Sox could be Christian Arroyo, who had a very brief appearance at first last year. With the Red Sox in a similar situation before the Schwarber acquisition, they gave Arroyo a chance to play first base. In the third inning of his first start there, he overextended stretching for a ball and exited with an injury and did not play there again. With the signing of Trevor Story, Arroyo has become a utility piece for the Red Sox, playing middle infield and some right field. Should Dalbec continue to struggle and if Cordero does not solve anything, he could be a potential option to see some time at first.
The player everyone is waiting to see in Boston is highly touted prospect Triston Casas. Casas, a 2018 first-round pick, has done nothing but produce in the minors, and has shot up prospect rankings over the year. Currently ranked as the number 17 prospect in baseball by FanGraphs, Casas should debut this year. However, the Red Sox do not want to rush their prized prospect as a result of other first baseman struggling. He is currently slashing .227/.366/.427 in Triple-A. He has struggled against lefties throughout his minor league career, and it is possible he could platoon with Dalbec at some point, given Dalbec’s 2021 success against lefties.
Should the current platoon not work out, one last organizational option for the Red Sox could be Roberto Ramos, who the Red Sox signed after a couple of successful seasons in the KBO, but Cordero and Dalbec will likely get a decent amount of time to fix things at first.
At this point, the Red Sox are searching for a serviceable option or platoon until Casas is ready. First base is a premier offensive position and a team like the Red Sox who expect to be in the playoff hunt once September rolls around will need better production from that position.