The Red Sox are in agreement with Raimel Tapia, as the free agent outfielder himself first indicated on Instagram. It’s a minor league deal for Tapia, tweets Jon Heyman of the New York Post. He’ll be invited to the major league side of Sox camp and can make $2 million with some additional performance bonuses if he cracks the MLB roster, per Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. Tapia is repped by Dream One Sports Group.
Tapia, 29 next month, joins the third organization of his professional career. The speedster first signed with the Rockies as an amateur from the Dominican Republic over the 2010-11 international period. A few years later, Tapia emerged as one of the sport’s more promising prospects. Evaluators praised his athleticism and bat-to-ball skills and suggested he could develop into a prototypical top-of-the-lineup sparkplug for Colorado.
The left-handed hitter got to the majors in 2016 but saw sporadic action for his first three seasons. He finally landed everyday playing time during the 2019 campaign and was a lineup regular for the next three years. Tapia indeed showed quality contact skills and speed at the MLB level, though he never consistently produced offensively. He owns a very aggressive approach and doesn’t have significant power, leading to an overall profile that’s heavily reliant on singles falling into play.
Tapia hit .280/.325/.395 in a little more than 1400 trips to the plate through the end of the 2021 season. Last spring, Colorado dealt Tapia to the Blue Jays for Randal Grichuk. The move balanced each club’s respective lineup, but neither player performed at a high level in 2022. Tapia posted a .265/.292/.380 line with seven home runs through 433 plate appearances, keeping his strikeouts at a modest 18.7% clip but drawing free passes less than 4% of the time he came to the plate. At season’s end, the Jays non-tendered him rather than retain him via arbitration on a salary that was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz at $5.2MM.
Over the course of his career, Tapia has suited up at all three outfield positions. The vast majority of his work has come in left field, where public metrics have pegged him as a roughly average defender. Tapia has rated reasonably well in a little over 400 career innings in center but never got much run there in deference to Charlie Blackmon and George Springer, respectively.
The Red Sox have looked to stockpile up-the-middle options in the wake of Xander Bogaerts’ free agent departure and Trevor Story’s injury. The free agent center field market is extremely thin at this stage of the offseason, leaving teams to sort through imperfect defensive fits or glove-first depth players. Boston agreed to a one-year deal with Adam Duvall yesterday, adding a right-handed bat to the mix. Tapia joins Jarren Duran as a left-handed option in the center field mix, though he’ll need to earn his way onto the roster with a strong spring showing.