We’ve talked ad nauseam already this winter, both here in the written word and on the podcast, about the roster crunch that is coming this winter. There are at least 12 spots that need to be opened up just to get the slam dunk Rule 5 protections on the roster, to say nothing of adding new talent from outside the organization. The flip side of that is the fact that the Red Sox, of course, have plenty of spare parts they can afford to lose. The first one came as a little bit of a surprise to me. On Friday it was announced that the Mariners have claimed righty Domingo Tapia off waivers from the Red Sox.
Today, the #Mariners claimed RHP Domingo Tapia off waivers from Boston.— Mariners PR (@MarinersPR) October 23, 2020
63 of the 80 pitches he threw in 2020 were four-seam fastballs (33 pitches, with an average velocity of 99.2 mph) or sinkers (30 pitches, average velocity of 98.5 mph).
Tapia was originally signed by the Red Sox to a minor-league deal shortly after the 2018 season concluded after he had spent his entire professional career to that point in the Reds organization. He made his major-league debut this past summer, making five appearances for the Red Sox, totaling 4 1⁄3 innings while allowing one run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. In 2019, he had spent the entire season in Pawtucket, pitching to a 5.18 ERA over 66 innings with 52 strikeouts and 32 walks.
Now, I say I was surprised he was the first to lose his spot on the roster, but I don’t want to make it sound like this is some major faux pas by the Red Sox front office. At the end of the day, Tapia is a 29-year-old who has 4 1⁄3 major-league innings under his belt. My surprise stems more from the lack of talent elsewhere on the pitching staff. Tapia doesn’t have much of a track record to speak of, even struggling at Triple-A in 2019, but he has some stuff to build off. He features two different fastballs that consistently get up near triple digits (and exceeds it at times) as well as a solid slider. The command has not been there consistently enough, though.
At the end of the day, I don’t suspect the Red Sox will look back at this move as any sort of major mistake, though I did think Tapia could sneak through this winter based on his stuff. Instead, he is the first of what we assume will be many similar roster casualties.