The Red Sox are going to select the contract of infielder Enmanuel Valdez today, according to Christopher Smith of MassLive. Acquired in the Christian Vázquez trade, Valdez was set to reach minor league free agency but will instead get a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster.
Valdez, who turns 24 next month, spent six and a half seasons in the minors of the Astros’ system. For the purposes of seven-year minor league free agency, 2020 counts as a year even though no official games were played due to the pandemic. In that time, he never got a huge amount of attention from prospect evaluators, having never appeared on a Baseball America list of top Houston farmhands coming into this year. FanGraphs gave him an honorable mention on their lists going into 2019, 2020 and 2021.
2022 was a big breakout for Valdez, however, with his bat taking a big step forward. Prior to the trade, he split his time between Double-A and Triple-A and produced a combined batting line of .327/.410/.606 for a wRC+ of 151. He slumped a bit after the deal, hitting .237/.309/.422 for a wRC+ of 92. But nonetheless, the Boston brass are intrigued enough that they have given Valdez a roster spot.
He doesn’t appear to have a set position at the moment, having spent time at first, second and third base in 2022, as well as the outfield corners. The Sox have an uncertain position player mix at the moment, with Xander Bogaerts now a free agent. They could look to have Trevor Story or Enrique Hernández cover short, but that would then create a vacancy at second base or center field. Of course, there’s also the possibility of the club re-signing Bogaerts, though it remains to be seen if that’s in the cards. Regardless, Valdez will join Christian Arroyo, Yu Chang and Jeter Downs as depth/utility types battling for playing time next season.