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Red Sox Designate Raimel Tapia For Assignment

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The Red Sox announced Monday that they’ve reinstated infielder Christian Arroyo from the injured list and, in a corresponding move, designated outfielder Raimel Tapia for assignment.

The veteran Tapia, 29, was non-tendered by the Blue Jays last winter and signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox, who selected his contract prior to Opening Day. He’s appeared in 39 games thus far and tallied 97 plate appearances in Boston, batting .264/.333/.368 with a homer, four doubles, a triple and six stolen bases (in seven attempts). He’s drawn nine walks and fanned 19 times along the way, giving him slightly better-than-average rates in both departments.

Tapia has played all three outfield spots in Boston but has primarily been a left fielder in his big league career — most of which has been spent with the Rockies. He’s drawn solid, if unspectacular grades in left field and in center field, though defensive metrics aren’t particularly keen on his right field prowess. He’s been average or a tick worse across the board in the outfield this season per each of Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating and Outs Above Average.

With some outfield versatility, above-average contact and above-average speed, Tapia has been a solid enough fourth outfielder in Boston, even with a glaring lack of power. That’s generally par for the course for the speedster, who has never topped nine home runs in a big league season and hasn’t been deemed a strong enough defender by any of the Rockies, Jays or Red Sox to run out in center field on a regular or even semi-regular basis.

Tapia can certainly provide value, but as a primarily left-field option without much power and with notable platoon splits (.105/.190/.105 versus lefties in 2023; .275/.305/.361 career), he’s perhaps a bit more limited than one might expect with a cursory glance at his batting line and 89th percentile sprint speed (per Statcast). It’s still at least somewhat surprising to see the Red Sox move on in this fashion, although with an all-left-handed-hitting outfield mix of Masataka Yoshida, Jarren Duran and Alex Verdugo, Tapia’s lefty bat might well have been deemed a suboptimal fit. The right-handed-hitting Rob Refsnyder offers a more natural complement in that regard.

The minor league deal Tapia signed over the winter contained a $2MM base salary, so any team that claims him or acquires him would need to be comfortable picking up the remainder of that prorated bill. Boston could always include some cash to help facilitate a trade, and a trade is surely the team’s preferred option, as Tapia has more than five years of MLB service and can thus reject an outright assignment while retaining the entirety of the salary still owed to him. The Red Sox will have a week to trade Tapia, attempt to pass him through outright waivers, or release him.

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