The Boston Red Sox may have filled their vacancy at shortstop … or they may have added yet another injury-prone infielder to their collection.
The Red Sox have acquired shortstop Adalberto Mondesi from the Kansas City Royals along with a player to be named later for left-handed pitcher Josh Taylor.
It’s the second major trade in two days for the Royals, who dealt Gold Glove center fielder Michael A. Taylor to the Minnesota Twins on Monday for a pair of pitching prospects.
Mondesi, 27, is coming back from a knee injury that limited him to just 15 games last season.
Who is Adalberto Mondesi?
Mondesi is the son of former All-Star outfielder Raul Mondesi, who played 13 seasons in the majors with seven different teams – primarily with the Los Angeles Dodgers – before retiring after the 2005 season.
The younger Mondesi made his major league debut with the Royals in the 2015 World Series, appearing as a pinch-hitter in Game 3 against the New York Mets and striking out in a 9-3 loss.
The switch-hitter has played shortstop, second base and third base over seven seasons in Kansas City, posting a .244/.280/.408 slash line with 38 home runs and 133 stolen bases, including a major league-leading 24 in the shortened 2020 season.
He’s also regarded as a plus defender at shortstop.
The biggest issue for Mondesi has been staying healthy. Only once in his career has he played more than 75 games in a season. And he’s coming off surgery last May for a torn ACL in his left knee, which limited him to only 15 games in 2022.
In 2021, he played just 35 games due to oblique and hamstring injuries.
Why the Red Sox need a shortstop
After allowing Xander Bogaerts to reach free agency this offseason and seeing him sign with the San Diego Padres, the Red Sox had planned to have Trevor Story move from second base to short in 2023.
However, those plans were derailed when Story suffered an injury to his right elbow during his offseason training. He underwent an internal bracing procedure earlier this month and is expected to need four to six months to recover.
Utilityman Enrique Hernandez appeared to be in line to become the starting shortstop after spending most of his time for the past two seasons in center field. Mondesi, as long as he’s healthy, gives the Red Sox a steady defender at short and allows Hernandez to start at second base or in the outfield, if needed.
Why did the Royals trade Mondesi?
His injury history likely played a role.
Another reason is that they really didn’t need him to be an everyday player anymore. After splitting time between shortstop and third base as a rookie, prized prospect Bobby Witt Jr. is set to become the team’s everyday shortstop this season (and for the next decade-plus).
The Royals also have several other players who will battle for the second base job and veteran Hunter Dozier under contract to play third.
Kansas City adds lefty reliever Josh Taylor, 29, in the trade. Taylor appeared in 121 games for the Red Sox from 2019-21, but was limited to 12 minor-league innings last season because of back issues.
What’s the fantasy impact of the Mondesi trade?
Mondesi would likely have been forced to share playing time this season on the rebuilding Royals. In Boston, he’ll get all the playing time he (and his body) can handle.
Although he strikes out far too much (30.2% career K rate), Mondesi does possess the combination of power and speed that fantasy managers covet. His torrid stretch in Sept. 2020 led to many fantasy titles when he hit .356, with six homers and 16 steals in the season’s final 24 games.
He’ll also be in a better hitting environment in Boston, where he can take aim at the Green Monster as a right-handed batter or use his speed to take advantage of the spacious ‘Triangle’ in right-center when hitting left-handed. (Mondesi led the AL with 10 triples in 2019.)
And then there’s the stolen base factor. The larger bases and the Red Sox’s losing Bogaerts’ run production could result in Mondesi frequently getting the green light to steal.