The Boston Red Sox have agreed to a minor-league contract with former White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka, as the team announced Palka's addition to the team's camp as a non-roster invitee on Friday.
Palka, 31, made his MLB debut with the White Sox in 2018 and impressed with slugging potential during a 100-loss season on the South Side. Splitting time as both a designated hitter and corner outfielder in his age-26 season, Palka hit 27 home runs and tallied 67 RBI in 124 games alongside a .240/.294/.484 slash line.
Despite underwhelming metrics defensively, Palka's 45 extra-base hits and 110 OPS+ helped carry him to a fifth-place finish in the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year voting.
While Palka's strong offensive performance in 2018 was enough to envision a long-term role in the South Siders' lineup, an abysmal start to the 2019 campaign led to the outfielder spending most of the season with Triple-A Charlotte. In 30 MLB games across 2019, Palka was just 9-for-84 with two home runs and eight walks, unable to find the power stroke that earned him playing time the prior year.
Palka went on to be released by the White Sox in July 2020, and has yet to see MLB playing time since 2019. After posting below-average offensive numbers in one year overseas in the Korean Baseball Organization, Palka has spent the last two seasons in the minor league systems of the Nationals and Mets, respectively.
The slugger has shown a bit of a return to form at the Triple-A level, hitting 44 home runs over the past two seasons while maintaining an OPS above .835 in both seasons, including an OPS of .850 in 2022. Overall, Palka has hit .261/.349/.486 at the Triple-A level in parts of six seasons, but has yet to show sustained success at the big-league level outside of his rookie campaign.
Although Palka's defensive background may keep him from seeing time in the outfield, the 31-year-old spent more time at first base in the Mets organization in 2022, giving the Red Sox an additional option when fitting Palka into their plans.
While it's far from a certainty that Palka will get big-league playing time with the Red Sox, his acquisition gives Boston a left-handed power depth option that could play a role on the big-league club in the event of injury.