SAN DIEGO — The question was a simple one, and the answer was telling.
Where is the power going to come from?
Manager Alex Cora, speaking to reporters for the first time since the 2022 season ended in disappointment, said he’s looking to Trevor Story and Kiké Hernandez to hit more home runs for the Sox in ‘23.
Then he added one more name: Triston Casas.
The Red Sox ended the season with four first basemen on their roster: Casas, Eric Hosmer, Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero.
Cordero was released and signed with the Orioles. Hosmer, Casas and Dalbec remain, although it would appear likely the Sox try to trade Hosmer, who looked shaky in his brief cameo and is more of a backup at this point in his career. His entire $39 million contract will be paid by the Padres over the next three seasons.
That leaves Casas and Dalbec, and while it’s obvious that Casas looks like the better player, the Sox were platooning the two frequently towards the end of 2022.
Could they get anything in a trade for Dalbec?
Boston Sports Journal reported Monday night that the Sox are trying to trade Dalbec, who hit just .215 with 12 home runs in a massively disappointing season in ‘22, one year after hitting 25 bombs in a decent rookie year. The Rays are reportedly interested in the slugger, who also plays third base and arguably plays it better than he plays first.
Keeping Dalbec on the roster gives the Sox some depth at first and third, but they’d probably want to upgrade after the 27-year-old has shown the inability to make contact with any regularity.
One thing is certain: they like Casas a lot, and it’s fair to expect he’ll be the regular first baseman.
He just needs to stay healthy. He had an ankle injury that cost him two months in ‘22, and now he’s dealing with a knee injury that has him sidelined during the winter.
“He’s a big dude,” Cora said. “He’s still a kid. Still growing. One of the things that we did in our exit meetings, (trainer) Kiyoshi (Momose) talked to him about, you see the power and there’s more there. But obviously the body’s going to change.
“And we’ve been on top of him as far as his offseason. I think rest was good for him in a sense, because obviously where he was physically, but now there’s a few things, adjustments-wise, that he needs to do in the offseason as far as like plyometrics and all that stuff.”
Asked about where the power will come from this year, Cora couldn’t hide his excitement about Casas’ potential.
“I think Tristan will hit homers,” he said. “But I think, of course, let’s see what happens with the roster. Kike healthy is going to help and Trevor healthy will help.”