Red Sox trade for Cooper to help fill hole at 1B

April 28th, 2024

BOSTON -- With Triston Casas out for weeks if not months with torn cartilage in his left rib cage, the Red Sox acted by acquiring first baseman in a trade with the Cubs for cash considerations on Saturday.

In fact, to make room for Cooper on the roster, the club transferred Casas from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day IL. The earliest Casas can play for the Red Sox is June 21.

Cooper, a right-handed hitter, was designated for assignment by Chicago on Tuesday. In 12 games this season, he had a slash line of .270/.341/.432 with one homer and six RBIs. For his career, the 33-year-old is a .268 hitter with 57 homers and 228 RBIs in 493 games.

The Red Sox expect Cooper to be activated for their home series against the Giants that starts on Tuesday.

Manager Alex Cora wasn’t immediately sure how he will deploy Cooper, but it appears likely the 33-year-old will get the bulk of the starts at first base until Casas returns.

“We'll talk about it,” Cora said. “Obviously, he's a guy that can put together a good at-bat. He can hit lefties and righties. He's a good defender. So we'll sit down and go over what we’re going to do. We do believe he's going to help us out.”

The Red Sox have been using Bobby Dalbec at first base since Casas last played on April 20. Dalbec, who still has Minor League options, has been struggling mightily at the plate. After going 2-for-4 with a sacrifice bunt in the Red Sox’s 17-0 rout over the Cubs on Saturday, he is hitting .128 with no homers and four RBIs in 47 at-bats.

It remains to be seen if Dalbec will be the odd man out when Cooper is activated. Cora praised him for his contributions to Saturday’s win.

“I believe the play of the game was Bobby bunting,” said Cora. “You know, he decided to do it and put the egg in the basket. He did something for the team. He did something really good, and then the sac fly [by Ceddanne Rafaela after that]. We can talk about his offensive struggles and all that stuff. But he had a great game at first, and that play kind of changed the game. It gave us breathing room and we kept playing.”

Cooper was a sixth-round selection of the Brewers in the 2013 MLB Draft. He started his MLB career with the Yankees, playing 13 games for them in ’17. Cooper had a six-year stay in Miami (2018-23), where he was an All-Star in ‘22, before finishing last season with the Padres and going to the Cubs this season.

When Patrick Wisdom returned from the injured list for the Cubs, Cooper became redundant.

On an injury-riddled Boston team, Cooper will be an important piece while Casas is out.

While the Red Sox haven’t provided a timetable on Casas, his transfer to the 60-day IL provided some clarity but no change in Cora’s mentality.

“Like I've been saying all along, man, Trevor [Story] is not going to be here, Casas is going to be out for a while,” said Cora. “We’ve got to be ready for [Sunday]. I understand that he’s going to be missed, but my mindset is whoever is playing is going to contribute. That's the way we see it. That's the way we’re going to do it, and we’re going to be OK.”