Red Sox

What you need to know about Red Sox addition Raimel Tapia

Tapia spent last season with Toronto after six seasons with Colorado.

Tapia celebrating a hit in a game against the Guardians. The Associated Press

Raimel Tapia is the second outfielder signed by the Red Sox in the past two days. 

The 28-year-old Dominican Republic native agreed to a minor league contract a day after Boston signed Adam Duvall to a one-year, $7 million deal.

Tapia and Duvall join Masataka Yoshida as the team’s free agent additions to the outfield that moved on from Jackie Bradley Jr. after last season and may look to move Kiké Hernández to the infield more permanently this year. 

Tapia has spent parts of seven seasons in the big leagues, playing left field for the majority of his time.

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Tapia began his Colorado career after the Rockies signed him for $175,000 in 2010. Once he hit U.S. soil his bat skills excelled, winning the Pioneer League MVP while playing Rookie Ball in 2013. 

Over the next three seasons in the minors Tapia hit .325 with 20 triples, and he stole 82 bases before being called up to the Rockies. His performance earned him a 60 hit grade and 55 speed grade by MLB.com.

Over the next two seasons the outfielder played in 92 MLB games, hitting .282 and swiping eight bases.

After struggling to stay up in 2018, he finally became a full-time starter in 2019, playing in 322 games over the next three seasons. 

While Tapia has always been able to put the bat on the ball with a .277 career average and is able to tap into his raw speed with career stolen bases, those are about the only things that make him stand out.

Tapia doesn’t have much power in his bat with a career .392 slugging percentage (an even less inspiring number when considering he spent all but one year playing his home games at Coors Field). His 5.5 percent walk rate is below average, and he’s going to swing and miss a lot.

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Tapia’s fielding might be the most frustrating part of his game, as he has an arm that falls in the top 20 percent of the league, and has elite speed but is average or below average in most defensive metrics. 

The Red Sox may have chosen the perfect time to give Tapia a chance however as the league prepares to implement a ban on infield shifts for the upcoming season. 

For his career, if Tapia puts a ball in play, 24 percent of the time it’s a line drive and 56 percent of the time it’s a ground ball; he doesn’t often put the ball in the air. According to Baseball Savant’s data, when his lefty swing makes contact it’s generally going to go to the right side of the infield or up the middle. 

Tapia’s propensity for pulling and hitting the ball on a downward angle has made him the perfect target for infield shifts that are now illegal. With teams now required to keep two infielders on each side of second base and all inside the boundary of the infield when the pitcher releases the ball, Tapia should be able to find some more hits here and there that were previously eaten up by the shift.

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