Red Sox land infielder Mondesi in trade with Royals

January 25th, 2023

BOSTON -- Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom continued his quest to make his team stronger up the middle by acquiring talented but oft-injured infielder Adalberto Mondesi in a trade with the Royals on Tuesday.

In exchange, the Red Sox sent lefty reliever Josh Taylor -- also a player with a history of injury issues -- to Kansas City. The Red Sox will also get a player to be named or cash considerations as part of the exchange.

In Mondesi, the Red Sox get a player who led the Majors in triples (10) in 2019 and stolen bases (24) in ’20 but hasn’t been on the field much the past two seasons. With rule changes coming into play this season that should increase stolen bases, a player like Mondesi figures to be more valuable if he can stay healthy.

“In terms of the talent, the athleticism he has, it's really been top of the scale of anyone who plays big league baseball,” said Bloom. “Obviously he's had a tough time over the years with injuries.”

Mondesi tore his left ACL on April 26, 2022, which ended his season. Bloom said that Mondesi will fly from the Dominican Republic to Fort Myers, Fla., later this week to continue his rehab under the watch of Boston’s medical staff. 

“Our expectation is that he may be a little delayed to start the season, but Opening Day is still a possibility. And with an athlete like this, I wouldn't rule it out,” said Bloom.

Prior to the acquisition of Mondesi, Red Sox manager Alex Cora had said that Kiké Hernández would likely be the team’s primary shortstop.

Bloom said that is still the plan, especially as Mondesi battles back from his latest injury.

“We really liked the upside of this opportunity, thought it made sense,” said Bloom. “Whether he's on time or not, we're expecting him to contribute for the bulk of the year. But as far as how we look at our shortstop situation, it doesn't change anything about where we're headed and the opportunity in front of Kiké. 

“When Adalberto is back, we know given his track record -- I don't think we want to put too much on him -- he'll be part of the mix. We'll bring him along the right way. We'll take care of him, and him being part of the mix will make it easier to take care of everybody.”

Christian Arroyo will also be a key part of Boston’s middle-infield mix, and Bloom didn’t rule out the Red Sox adding more depth before Spring Training.

In his career, Mondesi has started 241 games at short, 64 games at second and 20 at third base. Though Hernández has made only 64 starts at short compared to 187 at second, Bloom recently said that the veteran is a plus defender wherever he plays. Cora raved about how Hernández’s first-step quickness would play at shortstop.

For the last two seasons, Hernández was Boston’s primary center fielder. But after the departure of Xander Bogaerts via free agency and Trevor Story undergoing right elbow surgery that will keep him out indefinitely, the Sox contemplated moving Hernández back to the infield.

Contemplation turned to reality after the Sox signed free-agent slugger Adam Duvall to play center field on a one-year, $7 million deal that became official on Tuesday. Hernández said a few days ago that he prefers playing the infield, because he enjoys playing the game at a faster pace.

The son of former MLB outfielder Raul Mondesi, Adalberto has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, playing just 358 games while appearing in parts of seven seasons, all with the Royals. He'll be eligible to become a free agent after the 2023 season. 

After famously making his MLB debut for Kansas City in the 2015 World Series, Mondesi has posted a lifetime .244/.280/.408 slash with 38 homers and 133 stolen bases in the big leagues.

“Just in terms of looking at what he can do, he’s an awesome defender, he can run, he has power,” said Bloom. “Obviously, the inconsistency of the opportunities he's gotten has probably played into why he hasn't been able to tap into those tools consistently at the plate. But it's all there.

“He'll show you everything you would ever want to see out of a Major League player, and he’s really one of the better athletes to play at the big league level in recent years. So we're excited to get him in the organization, excited to finish this rehab, bring him along the right way, and he has the upside to really, really impact us.”

Thomas Harrigan contributed to this story.