When the Red Sox signed Jose Peraza last December, the club hoped it would turn out to be a steal.
Peraza struggled in 2019, which led to the Cincinnati Reds' decision to non-tender the middle infielder. Nevertheless, the Red Sox zeroed in on his 2018 stats, when he hit .288 with 14 homers in 683 plate appearances. If they could get that Peraza, the thought was that he could slide into the second base position.
Nevertheless, that wasn’t the outcome as Peraza slashed just .225/.275/.342 with a .617 OPS during the abbreviated 2020 season. After 120 plate appearances, he was optioned to the team’s alternate site. The Sox were back at square one without a steady hand at second.
In the absence of Dustin Pedroia, second base has remained a huge vacant spot for the Red Sox for much of the last three seasons. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts has seen his fair share of double-play partners. As the game has evolved, creating depth has become important.
“Our job is to put together a team that has as many quality players as possible,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said in a phone conversation Wednesday. “There might be some positions where you have an everyday player. There might be positions where multiple guys play. I think there are a lot of different ways to go depending upon what’s available to us in the offseason.”
The Red Sox didn’t necessarily strike gold with any of their second base options. But it was their first hack at trying to get a gauge of what they really had in finding that depth. Additionally, it was Bloom’s first chance at replicating what he mastered during his tenure with the Rays.
If there was one player who made an impression, however, it was Christian Arroyo. In his first nine games Arroyo hit .303/.343/.606 with three homers. He finished the season batting .240, but it was enough to leave an impression on Bloom and his staff.
Arroyo was a first-round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 2013. He struggled to gain his footing in the majors and was traded by the Giants to the Rays, then from the Rays to the Indians. Cleveland then designated Arroyo for assignment before the Red Sox picked him up off waivers on Aug. 13.
“I knew he was a fundamentally sound player,” Bloom said. “I knew he had versatility and ability. At the plate, I saw him drive pitches that I’ve never seen him drive before. That was impressive to see. He had a very confident approach at the plate.”
‘“I knew he was a fundamentally sound player. I knew he had versatility and ability. At the plate, I saw him drive pitches that I’ve never seen him drive before. That was impressive to see. He had a very confident approach at the plate.”’
Chaim Bloom on Christian Arroyo
Arroyo attributed much of his success to a key adjustment with hitting coaches Tim Hyers and Peter Fatse.
“For me, I get good hip rotation,” Arroyo explained. “That’s not really an issue of mine. But the only backlash you can get from that is kind of spinning off a ball. I’ve had a tendency to do that. For me, it’s really working on a lot of direction, staying direct through the middle of the field.”
Arroyo will have more time next spring to prove what he can really do. The larger sample size will be imperative in how the Red Sox view him going forward.
“We were able to give him an opportunity down the stretch but if you look at it in the grand scheme it was not a long [opportunity],” Bloom said. “But it’s still a small sample. Certainly, what he did made you hungry for more.”