The Red Sox made a move Friday that could impact their Opening Day roster.

Boston reportedly agreed to a minor league contract with first baseman C.J. Cron, a 10-year MLB veteran who presumably will compete with Bobby Dalbec, among others, for a bench role behind Triston Casas.

The Red Sox are buying low on Cron, who last season slashed .248/.295/.434 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs in 71 games (278 plate appearances) split between the Los Angeles Angels and Colorado Rockies. He missed time with injuries and is entering his age-34 campaign. Plus, he’s limited defensively, with all his MLB innings in the field coming at the cold corner.

But Cron is a right-handed hitter with an extensive track record of crushing left-handers, albeit with some regression in that department in 2022 and 2023. He could be a nice complement to Casas, a left-handed hitter entering his second full MLB season, especially since Cron grades out well as a defender at first base despite his lack of versatility.

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Cron actually fared better against right-handers than left-handers the past two seasons, during which he posted a .220/.286/.423 line in 266 plate appearances versus southpaws. But prior to that, he slashed .309/.378/.585 in 476 plate appearances against lefties from 2018 to 2021, good for a .963 OPS.

Overall, Cron has four seasons with at least 25 home runs and 70 RBIs. He launched a career-high 30 homers with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 and compiled a career-best 102 RBIs with the Rockies in 2022, a season in which he earned his first All-Star nod. He has pop, particularly to left field.

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Perhaps a part-time role leaning into Cron’s platoon strengths will serve him (and the Red Sox) well in 2024. There’s a trickle-down effect to every move, though, and Cron’s arrival certainly turns up the heat on Dalbec, a right-handed-hitting infielder vying to crack the Opening Day roster as Boston’s backup first baseman.

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Dalbec, a 28-year-old who’s bounced between the majors and Triple-A the past four seasons, has one minor-league option remaining. So, the Red Sox could keep Cron — they’ll need to add him to the 40-man roster — and send Dalbec to Worcester to begin the year. That, in essence, would give Boston more organizational depth — no small development amid a 162-game grind.

How the Red Sox deploy their outfielders will have massive ramifications on the Opening Day roster. They have five outfielders (Tyler O’Neill, Jarren Duran, Wilyer Abreu, Ceddanne Rafaela and Rob Refsnyder) vying for playing time, assuming Masataka Yoshida becomes the primary designated hitter. If the Red Sox choose to carry Cron over Dalbec, will it increase the likelihood of Rafaela — an elite defender capable of playing the infield, as well — cracking the roster? Maybe, even though Pablo Reyes or Enmanuel Valdez probably will be considered the main backup infielder. Because Dalbec, unlike Cron, can play positions in the infield besides first base.

Basically, the Red Sox have several factors to consider, including Cron’s bounce-back potential after a down year, Dalbec’s quest to achieve offensive consistency and the latter’s defensive versatility relative to the former’s.

It all equals an interesting roster battle, which might not make or break Boston’s 2024 season but nevertheless is important in assembling the puzzle.

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Featured image via Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports Images