When Rob Refsnyder first arrived in Boston as a minor league free agent ahead of the 2022 season, the journeyman outfielder was unsure about his future in the game and was considering retirement.
Now the 32-year-old’s future in Boston is secured.
The Red Sox announced Saturday they have signed Refsnyder to a one-year contract extension through 2024 with a club option for 2025. Refsnyder will make $1.85 million in 2024 and $2 million should the club pick up his 2025 option, and he will have an opportunity to earn performance bonuses and escalators as well.
Since his arrival in Boston, Refsnyder has emerged as a reliable and productive right-handed bat off the bench. Entering Saturday he was batting .284 with one home run and 17 RBI in 33 games, and he’s been an absolute menace against lefties, batting .365 with a .949 OPS so far this season.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom also praised Refsnyder for his consistency, focus and contributions behind the scenes, all of which were reasons the club felt comfortable offering him the extension.
“The body of work since he put on our uniform just speaks for itself,” Bloom said. “Not everyone is able to show that consistency even when the playing time is inconsistent. It’s easy to take for granted and we shouldn’t.”
A fifth-round draft pick of the New York Yankees in 2012, Refsnyder made his MLB debut at Fenway Park in 2015 and spent most of the next seven years scratching and clawing to stay in the big leagues. By the time he came to Boston the Red Sox were his sixth big league team, and at that point he had already spent significant time bouncing back and forth from the minor leagues.
“I’ve had this game almost taken from me a couple of times based on performance and I sit here very grateful, very humbled, thankful,” Refsnyder said. “I get to play in the greatest baseball city and the greatest ballpark, and I definitely don’t lose sight of that.”
Refsnyder said that when he didn’t make the Red Sox big league roster out of spring training in 2022 he began contemplating a shift to a front office role. By that point he’d started a family and wasn’t sure he wanted to keep forcing them to move around, but the moment that changed his career was a hitting lesson he had with Red Sox hitting coach Peter Fatse towards the end of camp.
“I’m very thankful that I wasn’t stubborn and went home and decided to work with him, because that hitting lesson alone really changed the trajectory of my career and my swing path, my game and the things that I’m comfortable doing,” Refsynder said. “A lot of credit goes to Fatse.”
Refsnyder eventually earned a call-up and quickly established himself as one of Boston’s most productive players. That performance helped earn him a $1.2 million big league deal for 2023, and Bloom said they began discussing the possibility of an extension as far back as spring training.
Those talks came to fruition this week, and Refsnyder said getting the chance to continue his career in Boston after everything he’s been through is particularly special.
“Something I’ll definitely celebrate with my wife, hopefully here on an off day hopefully our babysitter is available and we can get a glass of wine and reminisce on some of those highs and lows,” he said.
Infielder Yu Chang (left hamate fracture) may resume his rehab assignment as soon as this Tuesday in Worcester, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Saturday.
Chang, who has been out since April 24 after breaking a bone in his hand swinging the bat, originally began his rehab assignment on May 26 but was pulled back after experiencing soreness during his outing with the Portland Sea Dogs. Prior to his injury Chang was settling in as an excellent defensive presence at shortstop, and given Kiké Hernández’s recent struggles his absence has been sorely felt.
In other injury news: Christian Arroyo (right hamstring strain) flew back to Boston on Saturday and the club plans to discuss his next steps upon his return. John Schreiber (right teres major strain) has not yet begun throwing but may start playing catch Sunday or Monday. Trevor Story (right elbow rehab) is still hitting and throwing in Fort Myers and may rejoin the club for a few days after the upcoming road trip to check in.
The Red Sox have granted catcher Jorge Alfaro his release after the veteran exercised a June 1 opt-out in his contract, the club announced on Saturday.
In addition, Rio Gomez, son of the late ESPN baseball reporter Pedro Gomez, has been promoted to Triple-A Worcester.
Alfaro, who has spent the season in Triple-A so far after competing for a big league catching job in the spring, was leading the WooSox in batting with a .320 average and 56 hits to go along with six home runs, 13 doubles and 30 RBI in 43 games. The veteran of seven big league seasons will now have an opportunity to sign with another organization and presumably get a chance to play in the majors again.
Gomez, a 28-year-old left-handed pitcher, was a 2017 36th-round pick out of the University of Arizona and is now in his seventh year with the Red Sox organization. He has posted a 5.18 ERA in 60 games at Double-A since 2021 and earlier this year he took part in the World Baseball Classic as part of Team Colombia.