DONE DEAL: Red Sox have sign a $45.7million contract deal for C.J. Cron..

Red Sox Considering C.J. Cron

The Red Sox lost first baseman Triston Casas for a yet-to-be-determined but significant period of time yesterday, as the 24-year-old slugger was diagnosed with a left rib fracture. Manager Alex Cora said at the time that Bobby Dalbec would get the bulk of playing time at first base in lieu of Casas, but it seems the Sox are also mulling the possibility of going outside the organization. Chris Cotillo of reports that Boston has had some initial talks about bringing veteran C.J. Cron back to the organization.

Cron, 34, was with the Sox during spring training but was granted his release in late March after he triggered an opt-out clause. The veteran slugger saw action in just six spring games and went 3-for-15 with a pair of walks. He remains unsigned.

Middling as those small-sample spring numbers may be, Cron has a long and generally productive track record at the big league level. He’s a career .260/.320/.471 hitter who’s hit 25 or more home runs in four different seasons, including a 29-homer campaign as recently as the 2022 season with the Rockies. Cron hit .260/.304/.476 and popped 11 homers in 56 games with the Rox last season before being traded to the Angels — his original organization — at the deadline. He slumped to a .200/.259/.260 line in 15 games post-trade, however, and twice hit the injured list due to lower back troubles over the final two months of the season.

Cron has had four IL placements due to back and neck injuries since the 2021 season, and he missed the majority of the shortened 2020 campaign after damaging a ligament in his knee while fielding a grounder — an injury that eventually required surgery. It’s been a tough few years on the health front, but Cron has typically been a productive bat when he’s been on the field. Given the fact that he’s still unsigned after opting out of a minor league deal, one would imagine the cost to sign him would be affordable as well.

There are other options for the Sox to consider if they indeed go outside the organization. Fellow veteran Brandon Belt remains unsigned despite a hefty .254/.369/.490 slash and 19 home runs in 404 plate appearances with the Blue Jays last year. That performance checked in 38% better than league average, by measure of wRC+ (138). The Cubs also just designated veteran Garrett Cooper for assignment despite a rather productive 41 plate appearances to begin his season (.270/.341/.432, 118 wRC+). Cooper has punched out in more than 30% of his plate appearances and benefited from a .391 BABIP, which could be red flags for the Sox and other interested parties, however.

For now, it’ll be Dalbec getting the looks at first base, though it’s hardly a surprise that the Sox aren’t comfortable simply handing him the keys at first base. The former hit 33 home runs in his first 156 big league games from 2020-21 but has since batted just .198/.268/.337 (65 wRC+) in 441 plate appearances — all while punching out at a glaring 37.2% clip. Even more concerning is Dalbec’s start to the 2024 season. The 28-year-old has taken 35 plate appearances and gone 1-for-32 with 18 strikeouts.

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