Opening Day is just two days away, and the Boston Red Sox are a fascinating team to watch despite flaws on the roster.
The roster has been finalized, as Colten Brewer and Michael Chavis were optioned to Triple-A to make room for Phillips Valdez and Christian Arroyo. Eduardo Rodriguez has dead-arm; he’ll get skipped in the rotation for at least the opening series against Baltimore. Jarren Duran will open the season in the minors, meaning that Franchy Cordero is ready to roll for Opening Day.
Generally speaking, these shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anybody. But let’s look at each respective battle and why the edge went to one over the other.
Christian Arroyo versus Michael Chavis
Injuries have done a number on Arroyo’s value since he was a top prospect. Last season, he became a sight for sore eyes in September of 2020. In his final 11 games, Arroyo slashed .231/.302./.487 with a wRC+ of 107 in 43 plate appearances. While many wondered if it was some facade and just a byproduct of a shortened season with no expectations, the infielder got to work for 2021.
He’d come into camp prepared to battle with fan-favorite Michael Chavis for the final spot on the team’s bench. The only difference was him knowing he had no more minor-league options at his disposal. It was pretty likely him not making the team result in him being on the move again to another organization.
So, Arroyo came in and had an excellent spring. In 52 plate appearances, the second baseman slashed .269/.309/.462 with three home runs and a double. He was, more-or-less, the same player he ended as in 2020: a low on-base, decent power bat.
How’d that compare to Michael Chavis? The would-be third-year slugger slashed .250/.292/.600 with six home runs and three doubles. The major negative for Chavis versus Arroyo was the past 10 days. Chavis slashed .160/.185/.320 with a 37 percent strikeout rate. On the other hand, Arroyo slashed .263/.300/.421 with a 25 percent strikeout rate. Quite simply, Chavis began to show many of the same deficiencies he showcased in the past. He came into camp in fantastic shape, cutting weight but staying just as strong. Unfortunately, Arroyo stayed steady while Chavis was very Jekyll and Hyde.
Ultimately, this decision was made relatively easy for Chaim Bloom and co.
Phillips Valdez versus Colten Brewer
This one has about as little to do with Spring Training performance as possible. Both of these relievers have ERAs over nine; they’ve allowed roughly the same number of baserunners per inning; they’re also sporting a notch over one strikeout per inning.
Plain and simple, it comes down to how they’ve performed in the past. Last season, Phillips Valdez roared out of the gate, sporting a 0.86 ERA, a 26.1 percent strikeout rate and a 3.55 SIERA through August. In contrast, he came back down to earth in September –– 8.68 ERA, 6.61 SIERA and a -4.1 strikeout-to-walk rate.
Brewer, overall, was far from great. He had a 5.61 ERA, a 4.76 SIERA and a 9.0 percent strikeout-to-walk rate. His SIERA was only 0.22 runs worse than Valdez’s, but he was consistently inconsistent throughout the 2020 season. Combine that with a less-than-impressive 2019 campaign, and Brewer hadn’t even established a true leg-up on any incoming competition.
Brewer has excellent stuff, and his curveball is very Workman-like. Unfortunately for him, it just hasn’t come together yet. Perhaps an extended run in the minors could do him some good.