Dalbec, 27, is coming off a down year in Boston where he hit just .215/.283/.369 with 12 home runs and ultimately found himself optioned back to the minors in September. Dalbec struck out a whopping 33.4% of the time against an 8.2% walk rate. All told, that was good for a wRC+ of 80, or 20% worse than league average.
A former top-100 prospect, Dalbec burst onto the stage in the big leagues with an impressive, if short, sample in 2020. That year, he hit eight home runs in 23 games and amassed a 151 wRC+, although he did strike out in 42.4% of plate appearances. He came back to earth a bit in 2021, although still provided above-average production, slashing .240/.298/.494 with 25 home runs in 133 games.
Dalbec came through the minor leagues as a third baseman, but has spent most of his time in the big leagues at first. He did log some time at third, while also making a couple of short cameos at both middle infield positions. He was below average at first base, with Outs Above Average marking him at -1 and Defensive Runs Saved giving him -6 this year.
It’s not easy to see a path to much playing time in Boston for Dalbec, particularly coming off a poor season. Triston Casas made his debut in ’22 and looks set to get plenty of reps at first or DH, possibly splitting time with Eric Hosmer (if he stays on the roster). Over at third, Rafael Devers is locked in at third for next season at least so it makes some sense that the Red Sox might see what they can get for a former top prospect still young enough to turn things around.
Ever since trading Ji-Man Choi to the Pirates, the Rays have looked likely to be in the market for a first baseman. They’ve already been linked to the non-tendered Dominic Smith, and Dalbec would make sense for them as a buy-low, bounceback candidate. The right-handed hitter is still one year away from being arbitration eligible, so there’d be a decent amount of appeal there for smaller market teams in particular.
While the Rays make plenty of sense as a trade destination, it’s likely there’d be a few teams interested, perhaps some with a view to moving him back to third base. After all, Dalbec is only a year removed from a solid 106 wRC+ season and plenty of teams would surely take a chance on him as a cheap, power hitting bench bat with starter upside should he rebound.