Following an unexpected 2021 run that nearly culminated in a World Series berth, the Red Sox found themselves watching this year’s playoffs at home after finishing at the bottom of the AL East. One key area of criticism for the team was their production at first base. With four different players having at least 50 at-bats at the position, Boston struggled to a collective .210/.294/.369 slash line that ranked third-lowest in batting average, sixth-lowest in on-base percentage, seventh-lowest in slugging percentage, and resulted in wRC+ of 85, the fourth-lowest league-wide. This came only a year after Boston’s first basemen slashed a respectable .235/.310/.463, with a boosted .266/.366/.560 line during the second half of the season following the mid-season acquisition of slugger Kyle Schwarber (.291/.435/.522) and the seeming breakout of Bobby Dalbec (.269/.344/.611).
As discussed in MLBTR’s Offseason Outlook, Boston faces an interesting decision as the team looks to return to playoff contention in 2023. Currently, the Red Sox have four first basemen on their 40-Man roster: rookie Triston Casas, former top-prospect Bobby Dalbec, 1B/OF Franchy Cordero, and veteran Eric Hosmer. As free agency progresses, it’s plausible that at least one of these players loses their spot on the roster before Spring Training.
Starting with the obvious candidate to earn the bulk of playing time in Boston next season, September call-up Triston Casas. Selected by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2018 draft (26th overall), Casas profiles as an above-average hitter who peppers the ball across the entire field. After hitting .273/.382/.481 with 11 homers in Triple-A Worcester during the 2022 season, Casas made his major league debut. The 22-year-old showed promise in his limited at-bats, hitting .197/.358/.408 with five homers in 76 at-bats. Despite his weak batting average, he demonstrated tremendous plate disciple, walking at a 20% clip (compared to the 8.2% league average) while striking out at a slightly elevated rate (24.2% compared to 22.4%).
Casas is controllable through the 2028 season and will not be arbitration eligible until after the 2025 season, making him a favorite to potentially hold down first base in Boston for the better part of the decade.
Another front-runner to remain on the 2023 roster is righty Bobby Dalbec. Like Casas, Dalbec was a top prospect who made a promising debut late in the 2020 season, slashing .264/.359/.600 with eight home runs in…