The Red Sox announced Wednesday that they’ve claimed infielder/outfielder Romy Gonzalez off waivers from the White Sox. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster, Boston designated right-hander Zack Weiss for assignment. Chicago had designated Gonzalez for assignment last week in order to clear space for free agent signee John Brebbia.
In parts of three seasons with the White Sox, Gonzalez is a .222/.239/.361 hitter with five homers and seven steals in 239 plate appearances. Gonzalez’s approach at the plate has been a major issue, however. He’s walked in just 2.1% of his plate appearances against a jarring 36% strikeout rate. On pitches within the strike zone, Gonzalez’s 83.3% contact rate is just slightly under league average. However, his 50.2% contact rate on pitches off the plate is tied for 543 among the 593 hitters who’ve taken at least 200 plate appearances over the past three seasons. That lack of contact on pitches off the plate is exacerbated by the fact that only 39 hitters in that same group of 593 have chased off the plate more frequently than Gonzalez (41.5%).
Big league troubles notwithstanding, Gonzalez has been a reasonably productive hitter in the upper minors. He batted .267/.355/.502 in his lone season at the Double-A level and is a .251/.332/.451 hitter in parts of two Triple-A seasons. When he has made contact in the big leagues, it’s also typically been loud. Gonzalez has averaged 90.4 mph off the bat and put 45% of his batted balls in play at 95 mph or greater.
Defensively, Gonzalez is capable of playing all over the diamond but has spent the bulk of his time at shortstop (847 innings), at second base (616) and in left field (579). He has a pair of minor league option years remaining, too, making him a flexible bench option for the Red Sox for the foreseeable future, however long they choose to continue carrying him on the 40-man roster.
Boston claimed the 31-year-old Weiss off waivers from the Angels back in late August. He spent the remainder of the 2023 campaign in manager Alex Cora’s bullpen, pitching 8 2/3 innings and holding opponents to a pair of runs on three hits and four walks with eight punchouts. Weiss has appeared in parts of three MLB seasons dating back to his 2018 debut and carries a 4.61 earned run average with an impressive 28% strikeout rate but an ugly 12.7% walk rate in 27 1/3 MLB frames.
Those K/BB numbers are near-mirror images of the rates he’s posted in Triple-A (28.2% strikeout rate, 12.6% walk rate). Weiss averages 94.3 mph on his heater and generates tons of whiffs on his slider, which he threw at a 70% clip in his limited MLB action this past season. His overall 13.9% swinging-strike rate and 33% opponents’ chase rate in his three big league cups of coffee are both intriguing, but those traits are undercut by his lackluster command.
The Red Sox will have a week to trade Weiss, attempt to pass him through outright waivers, or release him.