The Red Sox have avoided arbitration with outfielder Rob Refsnyder by agreeing to a one-year deal, according to Chad Jennings of The Athletic. Refsnyder will earn a salary of $1.2MM in 2023, per Chris Cotillo of MassLive, and will be able to earn an extra $100K in performance bonuses, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected a slightly higher salary of $1.6MM.
Refsnyder, who turns 32 in March, has bounced around the league for much of his career, spending time with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, Rangers and Twins. Minnesota non-tendered him after a 2021 season where he hit .245/.325/.338 for a wRC+ of 88.
The Red Sox signed him to a minor league deal and sent him to Triple-A Worcester to start the year. He got a brief bump to the big leagues in April as a COVID “substitute” but didn’t properly get his contract selected until June. With Worcester, he was hitting an incredible .306/.429/.524 for a wRC+ of 155. After his promotion, he was largely able to duplicate those results at the big league level, finishing the year with a batting line of .307/.384/.497 for a wRC+ of 146. He had only six career home runs in over 600 plate appearances coming into the year and doubled that total by adding six more in just 177 trips to the plate.
That’s still a fairly small sample size but it was enough for the Sox to see if he can carry that over into 2023 with a slight bump in pay. Though Refsnyder has played a lot of infield in his career, Boston kept him in the outfield in 2022 and seems likely to keep him there again next year. Enrique Hernandez could play some infield but is also the best in-house option for the regular center field job at the moment. Alex Verdugo should be pencilled into one of the corners, though the club recently declined their mutual option on Tommy Pham.
Refsnyder has never been much more than a part-time player, with his 177 plate appearances in 2022 actually his career high. Perhaps he’ll have a chance to carve out an everyday role next year if the Red Sox think his results are sustainable, but it’s also possible they acquire another option at some point this offseason and push Refsnyder into the fourth outfielder. But for now, they’ve got a deal at a modest price point on a guy who showed breakout potential and could be sneaky value.