Spring Training MVP Making Roster Decisions Hard For Red Sox

Raimel Tapia is making a strong case to making the Red Sox roster


Mar 8, 2023

The Boston Red Sox are rolling throughout the early portion of their spring training schedule.

In defeating Puerto Rico during Wednesday’s night of exhibition games between Major League Baseball and World Baseball Classic teams, the Red Sox improved to 11-0-3 in their preseason escapades. The superb start to spring has made one thing very clear, Boston is a much deeper team than it was one year ago.

The Red Sox have non-rostered players making a push for spots up and down the roster, and while that is tremendous news, it will make the team’s final roster decisions much tougher than they have been in recent seasons. There’s one spot in which Boston is looking a bit crowded in particular, specifically due to the emergence of one free agent acquisition this offseason.

The Red Sox outfield appeared to be set entering the spring. Kiké Hernández’s move to shortstop opened up center field for Adam Duvall, while Masataka Yoshida’s arrival will seemingly push Alex Verdugo to a full-time role in right field. Rob Refsnyder has the inside track to the fourth outfield spot, with Jarren Duran making one more push to become an every day major leaguer.

Set in stone, right? Not if Raimel Tapia has anything to say about it.

Tapia, who was invited to camp on a non-roster deal alongside Greg Allen, Narciso Crook and Niko Goodrum, has far and away been the Red Sox’s best player in the outfield through camp. The 29-year-old has gone 7-for-17 (.412 batting average) with a .882 slugging percentage, one homer, five doubles, four RBIs, three runs, no walks and three strikeouts in six Grapefruit League games. He added another hit and RBI on Wednesday.

The success is good news, but will force Boston into making some difficult decisions. Tapia signed a minor league contract that will pay him $2 million if he makes the major league club, but the Red Sox risk losing Tapia if they don’t add him to the 26-man roster before Opening Day. The contract has an opt-out clause if Tapia is not added to the 40-man roster.

That means the Red Sox cannot store Tapia in the minors unless he agrees to an assignment, something they had great success doing with Rob Refsnyder in 2022.

The decision will ultimately be left up to manager Alex Cora and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, but if the Refsnyder situation from last season is any indication, it could have a long-term impact on the Red Sox.

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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