Red Sox Cut Ties With Former 30-HR All-Star Slugger

Red Sox signee CJ Cron was released on Sunday

Getty Red Sox signee CJ Cron was released on Sunday

It was only two years ago that first baseman C.J. Cron belted 29 home runs and knocked in 102 RBIs, earning his first-ever All-Star nod while suiting up for the Rockies. That came on the heels of a year in which he hit 28 homers with 92 RBIs, and four years after he whacked 30 homers for the Rays. Cron can hit, and hit with power, and he appeared to be a solid bet to at least make the Red Sox as a bench player when he was signed by the team on March 3.

Alas, Cron opted out of the minor-league deal he signed on Friday when it was clear he’d been beaten out as the backup first baseman to Triston Casas by Bobby Dalbec. Over the weekend, the team released Cron altogether, rather than seeking to re-sign him after the opt-out.

The Red Sox did say they’re keeping pitcher Joely Rodriguez, as the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier announced on Twitter/X: “Joely Rodriguez has made the Red Sox roster, a decision punctuated with a joyful shout from the lefty in the clubhouse. CJ Cron, meanwhile, has been released.”

Bobby Dalbec Getting Backup Role?

It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Cron, who was favored to keep a spot with the big-league team because he could not be optioned to Class AAA Worcester, where Dalbec still has an option left. At 28 years old and having spent four years in Boston, Dalbec obviously did not want to return to the minors. He won’t have to, after batting .255 with three homers and nine RBI in 21 games this Spring.

Dalbec will be the backup to Casas and, barring injury, is likely to have a limited role this season. He is primarily a first baseman, but can DH or play a little third base, though he has logged only 22 career starts there.

Dalbec spent much of 2023 in gaining minor-league experience playing the outfield. Dalbec played only 21 games in Boston and 114 in Worcester, as the Red Sox have tried to figure out a way to keep him on the team even with Casas playing first base as much as possible.

Manager Alex Cora addressed that earlier in the offseason, per “I think versatility is coming into play. I think the outfield play we like. He did a good job in Triple-A. Obviously, the configuration of the stadium is different in Triple-A but he did a good job. And we need a right-handed bat that can play in the corners and be versatile. So he has a shot to do it.”

CJ Cron ‘Felt Good’ in Spring Training

Cron, though, is strictly a first baseman, and has never played a game at third base or in the outfield. Though his slugging history is intriguing, the Red Sox needed him to do more than just back up Casas and occasionally man the DH slot, and that’s just not in his skillset.

Cron was limited to just 71 games last year with the Rockies and Angels, mostly because of a back injury, and was not 100% when he was on the field. He hit .248 with 12 home runs. It’s hard to believe he will remain a free agent for very long, given his recent power history.

“It’s just timing and playing the game,” Cron said early this month, per “You haven’t done it in so long — just on your legs and getting into the rhythm of the game. Defense, offense, it’s all just kind of a rhythm thing, and we’ll figure it all out.”

Cron was asked about his back injury, and said, “Felt good. Felt a lot better than it did last year, that’s for sure. Hopefully we can keep this thing under control.”

Hopefully, yes. But he’ll control it somewhere else, it seems.

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