Pink Sox Discover Their Shortstop, Commerce For Adalberto Mondesi

Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Pink Sox have spent a lot of the offseason with an enormous gap up the center of their infield. With Xander Bogaerts departing in free company, Boston had no true shortstop on the roster. Whereas Enrique Hernández and Christian Arroyo every made a handful of begins on the six on Bogaerts’ off days, neither is a real shortstop and each are wanted to man the opposite up-the-middle positions, the place the group nonetheless lacks depth. Yesterday, the Pink Sox not less than partially crammed that gap, buying and selling left-handed reliever Josh Taylor to the Royals for switch-hitting infielder Adalberto Mondesi and a participant to be named later.

A wholesome Mondesi is considered one of baseball’s most enjoyable place gamers to observe. Most followers doubtless know him for his top-of-the-charts velocity, which he exhibits off in all sides of his recreation. Let’s begin with probably the most seen one: baserunning. Mondesi has a number of seasons underneath his belt with a mean dash velocity above 30 toes per second, making him probably the most electrical runners within the recreation. Since his debut in 2016, 44% of his aggressive runs have been outlined as bolts, a mark bested by simply 4 others throughout that point. In fact, Mondesi has additionally used his velocity to steal bases, and his mixture of aggressiveness and effectivity has allowed him to place up ludicrous stolen base numbers regardless of by no means getting a full season’s price of plate appearances:

Plate Appearances Per Stolen Base Leaders, 2018-22

SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

min. 1000 PA

Over the previous 5 seasons, Mondesi is fourth in whole steals, and whenever you account for the truth that he’s performed in far fewer video games than the remainder of the pack, he blows everybody else out of the water. And he’s finished this regardless of having far fewer alternatives to steal even when he’s enjoying. See, Mondesi swings at every part, and never within the Vladimir Guerrero means the place he may bloop a single in opposition to a pitch within the grime. Mondesi chases about 40% of pitches off the plate, comes up empty on over a 3rd of his swings, and walks simply 4.4% of the time. His .289 OBP ranks close to the underside of the leaderboards, and the one different participant who has related stolen base numbers with equal ranges of on-base futility, Hamilton, had the advantage of 58 pinch-running appearances to spice up his steal totals; Mondesi has simply three. In 2019, he performed simply 102 video games, however stole 43 bases regardless of an OBP of simply .291, together with a dozen steals of third, 5 greater than the next-best finisher.

Whereas Mondesi has related stolen base numbers to different speedsters like Smith and Berti, the form of his offensive efficiency is kind of totally different. Most hitters who depend on velocity for achievement wish to pound the ball into the bottom and let their legs carry them down the road – Smith and Berti every hit about twice as many groundballs as fly balls. Mondesi, then again, has a extra fashionable batted ball profile, hitting grounders and fly balls in additional equal proportion whereas posting an above-average pull fee. Generally this works effectively, like in 2018 when he slugged .498 and performed at a 5.2 WAR per 600 PA tempo. However he usually struggles with barrel accuracy, as evidenced by his poor line drive and pop up charges. And like most hitters with strategy points, his offensive efficiency can tank shortly when the balls cease dropping for hits. With a strikeout fee so excessive, Mondesi usually doesn’t give himself the prospect to make use of his velocity and baserunning expertise, as a substitute taking a gradual stroll again to the dugout. That is why, regardless of plus uncooked energy and elite velocity, his profession wRC+ sits at a pedestrian 79.

Mondesi’s outlier velocity additionally makes him a plus defender everywhere in the infield. His near-limitless vary mixed with stable arms and actions has allowed him to not simply get to extra grounders than most others, however to additionally convert these performs into outs. Statcast’s defensive metrics contemplate him stellar, averaging +12 RAA per 1,500 innings, functionally contributing over a full win per season with simply his glove. He’s additionally been above common in restricted reps at each second and third base, permitting him to serve in a utility function if the Pink Sox discover different choices at shortstop. Mondesi’s presence supplies a serious enhance to Boston’s infield protection as a complete, as he replaces Bogaerts, who was price -26 RAA and -50 DRS throughout his time there. Mixed with left-side accomplice Rafael Devers (-11 RAA, -44 DRS), the Pink Sox protection has produced the fifth largest difference between actual and expected batting average on groundballs within the majors through the Statcast period. And with Devers sticking round for the foreseeable future, Mondesi’s slick glove work will anchor their left facet, not less than for now.

However whereas Mondesi is a serviceable participant on account of his baserunning and defensive expertise at shortstop, he additionally has a big harm historical past that has price him a lot of the previous half-decade. He missed half of 2018 with a shoulder impingement, then was sidelined for 2 months in ’19 with shoulder and groin points. His solely full season occurred through the shortened 2020 marketing campaign, however he has appeared in simply 50 video games since then. He suffered indirect and hamstring accidents in 2021 and noticed his ’22 season finish only a few weeks after it started on account of an ACL tear. Certainly, he’s nonetheless rehabbing again from that harm, and his availability for Opening Day isn’t assured. It could be silly for the Pink Sox to pencil him in for 150-plus begins, each on account of harm danger and the lackluster high quality of his bat. Absent different additions, Hernández looks as if the perfect wager to take over at shortstop if Mondesi is out, particularly with the addition of Adam Duvall, who initiatives effectively in middle subject regardless of enjoying in a nook for many of his profession. And whereas Trevor Story could be again later within the season, his elbow accidents could stop him from returning to shortstop, as evidenced by his eighth-percentile arm energy and important enhancements in OAA after transferring from shortstop to second base.

Headed to Kansas Metropolis in change for Mondesi is Josh Taylor. Like Mondesi, Taylor missed almost all of 2022, solely showing in minor league rehab video games earlier than being shut down for the season with a lingering again concern. When wholesome, Taylor nearly precisely defines the “95 and a slider” aid archetype, throwing fastballs and sliders every about half the time, with the warmers averaging 94.6 mph. Like many different center relievers, Taylor has a wonderful profession strikeout fee (29.4%) however can also be sometimes liable to wildness, strolling 10% of hitters. In about 100 profession innings, he has a 79 ERA- and 75 FIP-, making him solidly above common when accessible.

This commerce, together with the deal that despatched Michael A. Taylor to Minnesota in change for sidewinding lefty Evan Sisk and flamethrower Steven Cruz, dietary supplements the pitching depth of a farm system that hasn’t reached its desired developmental outcomes not too long ago. The Royals system has been much maligned for its struggles getting quite a few big-name pitching prospects to pan out as main league starters. As for relievers, simply two of the eight arms projected to make their bullpen this season have been initially drafted or signed by Kansas Metropolis; the remainder have been acquired through free company or commerce. Maybe the Royals are hoping for stable main league outcomes from youthful pitchers who’ve already had a lot of their developmental work finished by different groups. Taylor instantly slots right into a bullpen that completed twenty seventh in aid ERA (and starter ERA) final season, whereas Sisk and Cruz construct depth for the long run.

I believe the Pink Sox will find yourself getting the higher hand on this commerce. Whereas Mondesi is in his final yr of arbitration, and his median projection for plate appearances might be within the 300s, Taylor doesn’t transfer the needle in any respect for a group that misplaced 97 video games final yr and whose largest offseason upgrades have been Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarbrough – two gamers who will serve a much bigger function in permitting the Royals’ different starters to develop than contributing to wins. Taylor isn’t a nasty pitcher, however he nearly actually gained’t be a member of the following aggressive Royals group. It’s attainable that he could be traded for prospects down the road, however they might have finished the identical with Mondesi, presumably with out sacrificing one other prospect because the PTBNL. The Pink Sox, who’ve already signed a stable aid duo in Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin, are left with only one left-handed reliever, groundball specialist Joely Rodríguez. However with the ‘pen already bolstered and their shortstop concern far tougher to unravel within the free agent market, the Pink Sox seized the chance to attempt to patch their largest gap.