The Red Sox added much-needed help in midfield on Tuesday, acquiring the shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and a player who would later be named Royals in exchange for a left-handed reliever Josh Taylor. Both teams announced the trade.
At Mondesi, Boston acquires a hugely talented 27-year-old infielder — but also one of MLB’s most frequently injured players in recent seasons. Dating back to the 2018 season, Mondesi has only appeared in 40% of the Royals’ possible games, missing time due to a right shoulder impingement, a sprained groin, a pair of left shoulder subluxations, a sprained left hamstring, an oblique sprain and, most recently, a torn ACL which wiped out his 2022 season. The left shoulder injury and torn ACL have required surgical intervention.
It’s an impressive injury list for Mondesi, but nonetheless it’s hard not to be wowed by Mondesi’s mix of power, speed and defense. In 1,366 Major League table appearances, Mondesi has 38 homers, 54 doubles, 20 triples and 133 stolen bases. He also had 23 over-average strikeouts and a 13.3 ultimate zone rating in 2,126 career innings at shortstop.
Beyond injuries, this combination of raw skill is also undermined by an aggressive approach and sub-par bat-to-ball skill that regularly leads to below-average OBPs. Mondesi has stoked 30.2 percent of his plate appearances to just 4.4 percent walk rate, and he’s a career .244/.280/.408 hitter in the majors. This includes an approximate .140/.204/.140 spawn in 2022, although this came in a small sample of just 54 plate spawns.
Mondesi has wowed scouts, fans and evaluators for years, but the Red Sox will be the first team other than the Royals to try to both keep Mondesi healthy and maximize the return on those raw tools. They only acquire one year of his service, as despite struggling to stay on the pitch, Mondesi has racked up more than five years of service in the Major League thanks to his various spells on the injured list. He and the Royals avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $3.045 million salary in December.
Boston’s need for an intermediate assist has skyrocketed in the offseason, with Xander Bogaerts heading to the Padres via free agency and Trevor’s Story now sidelined for at least a significant part of the 2023 campaign following internal splint surgery on his right elbow. Boston signed Adam Duval play in the center of the field, thus pushing Enrique Hernandez in the middle of the infield. With Mondesi now on board, he can probably handle the bulk of the workload at shortstop, when healthy, while Hernandez slides to second base. Christian Arroyo remains on hand as a utility option who could play regular second base, should Hernandez move to shortstop if Mondesi is injured.
As for the Royals, the Mondesi trade represents a disappointing outcome for a player they once viewed as a potential fundamental piece. The infield long-term perspective now contains a new cast of characters, highlighted by Bobby Witt Jr. and defensive star Nicki Lopez. Mondesi trade set to open up extra playing time for 24-year-old Michael Massywho the organization hopes will be an important part of the infield for years to come.
Kansas City acquires three years of Taylor, an affordable and talented left-handed reliever who missed the 2022 season with a back injury. When healthy, Taylor threw 102 1/3 innings at the MLB level, recording a 3.69 ERA with an impressive strikeout rate of 29.4% against a more troubling walk rate of 10. %. Taylor averages nearly 95 mph on his heater, has average tendencies on the ground and boasts a 15% high strike rate in his career – a possible omen for even more batting advantages. He is expected to earn $1.025 million in 2023 and is controllable through 2025 through arbitration.
As talented as Taylor is, he’s had his own share of health issues throughout his professional career. The southpaw missed time with tendinitis in his shoulder in 2020 before dealing with back pain at the end of 2021 and then missing the 2022 season due to the continued problem with his back. He also struggled against right-handed hitters, producing a .283/.375/.429 batting line as opposed to a .173/.247/.228 slash against lefties.
It’s the second trade in as many days for the Royals, who have now slashed just over $6.5m from their 2023 wage bill by swapping Mondesi and the centre-back Michael A. Taylor. The newly acquired Josh Taylor and left-handed Evan Sisk, acquired in last night’s trade with the Twins, gives Kansas City a pair of southpaws that could impact the bullpen this season. It also frees up additional resources for the Royals to continue their announced pursuit of a Zack Greinke meeting or maybe another bat to add elsewhere in the lineup.
Univision’s Mike Rodriguez first reported that the two sides were approaching a Mondesi trade. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that a deal sending Mondesi and a PTBNL to the Red Sox in exchange for Taylor was in place (Twitter link).