Bobby Dalbec clobbers pair of home runs amidst Red Sox rumors linking them to Josh Bell
Amidst rumors that the Boston Red Sox are among the teams interested in Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell, Bobby Dalbec made quite a statement on Wednesday night with a pair of game-changing home runs.
Coming to the plate with the Sox down 3-0 in the bottom of the second, his first home run of the night put them on the board and within one.
His second blast gave them a one-run lead in the sixth.
That this is Dalbec’s first multi-homer game of the season (and fourth of his career) feels like a timely message to the team:
Don’t give up on me yet.
The 27-year-old infielder came into Wednesday night’s game hitting .200/.276/.342 with a .618 OPS. Over his first 88 games of the year, he only collected 16 extra-base hits while tying JD Martinez for the second-most strikeouts on the roster (87).
While Dalbec is actually striking out at a lower rate and drawing more walks than last season, diminished power has been a concern. Entering Wednesday, his home-run rate was a full 2.5% lower than last season, his average exit velocity dropped from 92.4 to 89.3 MPH, and his hard-hit rate dropped nearly 4%. One big game at the plate won’t erase those concerns.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Bell is hitting .304/.388/.494 with a .882 OPS, 23 doubles, three triples, and 13 home runs in 98 games. Dalbec has struck out 22 more times than Bell, in fewer games.
If the Red Sox get Bell and trade Martinez (they are reportedly listening to offers), they could move Rafael Devers to the DH spot when he returns from the Injured List, and Dalbec could end up playing more third base. He was actually stationed at third base on Wednesday night as Franchy Cordero made three errors at first.
However, there are several moving parts to this situation. Dalbec is younger than Bell and under club control until 2027, so keeping him is a liability, but an inexpensive one for a team determined to go in a cheaper direction, even if it hurts their chances of contending. A trade for Bell also throws a wrench in Boston’s plans for top prospect Triston Casas, whom many thought might debut this season before an ankle injury derailed his process.
All in all, a huge game for Dalbec, but the way things are going for the Sox, it may not make a difference at all.