The Boston Red Sox drafted Bobby Dalbec in 2016. He's played 294 major league games since his debut four years ago. Dalbec's path has been uncertain ever since. And it sounds like he knows it, at least a little bit.
On an episode of the "Baseball isn't Boring" podcast, Boston-based host Rob Bradford asked Dalbec if he was surprised to be going into Spring Training with the Red Sox.
"Kinda sorta," Dalbec responded.
The 28-year-old went on to say that he believed he'd be traded around the 2023 deadline. Clearly, the Sox are still holding onto him.
Even with a new CBO in charge, the Red Sox are holding on to Bobby Dalbec
It's hard to tell whether Dalbec wants to play in Boston or not. He's still fighting for an everyday role after eight years in the Red Sox's minor league system, and Triston Casas is Boston's clear preference at first base. Since Dalbec is still spending the majority of his time with Worcester, running with Casas has probably been the Red Sox's plan for a while.
If Boston was going to trade Dalbec, it should've done so years ago. He spent much of the 2021 season in the majors, including a daily presence on the roster during the Sox's most recent playoff run. Dalbec played 133 games in Boston in 2021 and batted .240/.298/.494 with 25 homers.
His presence on the major league roster has decreased since then. Dalbec logged 117 games with the Red Sox in 2022 and just 21 in 2023. It doesn't appear that he's part of Boston's long-term plan, unless the plan includes using him as a right-handed bat this coming season so John Henry and Tom Werner won't have to pay for one.
Dalbec is a good player who could suit a major league roster in a different division. The American League East is the most competitive division in the league and the Red Sox can't afford not to put out their A-team every night — and even that squad is weak, especially after three of the other teams in the division have improved, but the point still stands.
He wants to be a big leaguer and he's been putting in the effort in Worcester for years. His 2023 stats include a .269/.381/.557 line, 111 hits and 33 home runs, one of which was said to fly an astonishing 515 feet.
One of the main things holding Dalbec back is his strikeout rate. While he can slug, he also racked up 169 strikeouts last season. In the AL East, players with inconsistent power can't afford to strike out that much.
Neither Chaim Bloom nor Craig Breslow were keen to move on from the righty, though. Both chief baseball officers wanted to keep Dalbec around as a backup option for positions across the infield thanks to his defensive versatility.
The front office's reluctance to spend in 2024 could bode well for Dalbec. He could get another chance to make a splash in the majors and find the success he's been working for years to reach. The departure of Justin Turner is a step in that direction, Dalbec just has to perform.