Red Sox take interesting roster upgrade from Yankees (again)

Newest Red Sox player Tim Locastro is one of the fastest baserunners in MLB

The Boston Red Sox have added another former New York Yankee to their roster, 28-year-old outfielder, Tim Locastro.

Locastro, who debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers in September 2017, has played a total of 209 games over five years between Los Angeles, Arizona, and New York. He has a lifetime .231/.333/.329 line and .662 OPS.

So what’s the appeal of Locastro, who has 29 career extra-base hits to his name?

Speed.

Locastro has been one of the fastest runners in the game for a while now, even drawing comparisons to Red Sox outfielder/pinch-runner-turned Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts, who is best remembered in his playing career for that stolen base.

Speaking of stolen bases, the league average in 2021 was 74. The Red Sox finished second-worst in the game with 40. They made 54 outs on base, which tied for third-most, and their 22 outs on second was tied for most in MLB. So, for a Red Sox team that struggled with baserunning to an embarrassing degree and even parted ways with coach Tom Goodwin earlier this fall, in part because of those issues, Locastro is a great addition.

Between 2017-2020, Locastro was perfect through 26 stolen bases. The streak continued into the 2021 season, when he broke Tim Raines’ record for stolen bases without being caught. It was a full-circle moment; Raines had been his first baserunning coach in the minors.

According to Sarah Langs, Locastro led MLB in Spring Speed in 2019 and 2020. The MLB average was 27 ft/sec; Locastro averaged 30.8 ft/sec in 2019, and 30.7 ft/sec the following season. He repeated his 30.7 ft/sec to tie for the lead again in 2021.

In a brutal twist, Locastro tore his ACL while facing the Red Sox on July 17, only nine games into his Yankees tenure, after the Diamondbacks traded him on July 1. His absence on the basepaths hurt the Yankees, but he is expected to be healthy for Opening Day 2022.

I asked Red Sox captain-turned-coach Jason Varitek about Locastro at the Pedro Martinez Foundation Gala on November 5:

“He has some dynamic speed, and has some abilities. But just like all young players, you have to accumulate at-bats to really see where they go.”

This is the second offseason in a row that Chaim Bloom has claimed a Yankees player. Last year, it was Garrett Whitlock in the Rule 5 draft; the rookie pitcher was one of the best in baseball this season. If Locastro is even remotely as solid as Whitlock, Bloom will look like an absolute genius.

The addition of Locastro is also interesting in the context of the current Sox outfield situation. JD Martinez is expected to opt out of his final season and explore free agency, Kyle Schwarber declined his mutual option but is still very interested in returning for the right price, and fellow speedster Jarren Duran made his MLB debut earlier in the 2021 season.

So, how much playing time will Locastro have next season remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Red Sox base-running just got significantly better.


*Photo via AP

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