TODAY: Arroyo has been outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers.
AUGUST 4: The Red Sox announced Friday that they’ve activated deadline acquisition Luis Urias and added him to the Major League roster. Infielder Christian Arroyo was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.
Arroyo, 28, has spent the past three-plus seasons in Boston, typically providing roughly league-average offense at second base. From 2020-22, the former top prospect turned in a combined .273/.320/.427 batting line (102 wRC+), walking at a well below-average 4.7% clip but also putting the ball in play at a better-than-average rate (19.4% strikeout rate). His production has taken a major nosedive in 2023, however, as he’s produced just a .241/.268/.369 slash with a career-low 3.4% walk rate. This year’s 21.8% strikeout rate is also a notable step back from last year’s career-low 16.8% mark.
While he’s played all over the infield and also logged 108 innings in right field last year, Arroyo has played primarily second base and third base in the big leagues. Defensive metrics generally approve of his glove at second; he’s tallied 12 Defensive Runs Saved and 8.5 Ultimate Zone Rating in 1332 innings there. Statcast’s Outs Above Average considers him to be essentially an average defender there. His grades at third base aren’t as strong, but he’s also only logged 447 innings at the hot corner.
Arroyo’s lack of minor league options surely played a role in the decision to DFA him, as did this year’s diminished production. Boston’s acquisition of Urias could put the now-former Brewer into a similar role to the one Arroyo has held in recent seasons. Urias is having a down year himself — notably in just 68 plate appearances — but has a higher offensive ceiling than Arroyo. From 2021-22, Urias slashed .244/.340/.426 with 39 home runs for the Brewers. He’ll likely hit for a lower average than Arroyo but also has more power and draws walks more than twice as often.
Like Arroyo, Urias is a former shortstop who’s settled into a second base/third base role due to defensive concerns. Perhaps most notably, he has a minor league option remaining beyond the current season, so he’ll give the Red Sox more flexibility with their roster while ideally providing comparable, if not superior production.
As for Arroyo, with the trade deadline passed, he’ll be placed on waivers. He and the Red Sox agreed to a $2MM salary over the winter, avoiding arbitration. He’s still owed about $624K of that sum. If he’s claimed on waivers, the new team will pick up the remainder of that tab but also retain the right to control Arroyo through the 2024 season — his final year of arbitration eligibility. If he’s unclaimed, he has the right to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency.
However, Arroyo is just days shy of reaching five years of service time, meaning that he can’t yet reject the assignment and retain the rest of his salary. Had he been designated even a week later, he’d have that right. As such, if he’s unclaimed on waivers, he’ll surely accept the outright assignment to keep that salary. He’d then be able to become a free agent at season’s end (assuming the Red Sox don’t add him back to the 40-man roster).