Rafael Devers is here.
A week after being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, Devers has been called up to the Red Sox and will start Tuesday night in Seattle.
The #12 prospect and the top 3rd base prospect in baseball hit .400 in 9 games with Pawtucket with 2 home runs.
Here is a scouting report on Devers from the beginning of the season (http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2017?list=prospects):
“Devers’ signature tool is his prodigious power to all fields, the product of impressive bat speed and strength. He’s more than just a slugger, however, which he proved yet again with his ability to make adjustments in high Class A. While he can get aggressive at the plate, he recognizes pitches well for his age and understands he’s at his best when he tries to drive the ball from gap to gap and just lets his power come naturally”
Devers’ offense has been well documented, he can hit to all field and hit it far to all fields. It appears as if he’s MLB ready in that department, but the concern is his defense. 4 errors in 7 games in Pawtucket and 12 errors in Double-A Portland is also Not Good. The Sox can survive an error here and there if he fills the offensive black hole at 3rd base, but if he continuously botches plays, it’ll be a failed experiment and we’ll wait for next year to see Devers full time.
But Dave Dombrowski might think this is the solution (from Rob Bradford):
“Really, for us, we think he gives us as good a chance as anybody we’ve had a chance to acquire for third base”
So what does this mean for Dave Dombrowski’s trade deadline plans?
The timing is very suspicious. A week before the deadline, is this the Red Sox 3rd base deadline acquisition? Obviously a week is way too small of a sample size to judge if Devers is ready for full time 3rd base duty, but if he smacks the cover off the ball, maybe Dave Dombrowski will cut back on a 3rd base acquisition and get somebody cheap. Jed Lowrie, Eduardo Nuñez, or Asdrúbal Cabrera are reasonably cheap options to potentially platoon with Devers, or even start. But if Devers is the 3rd base deadline acquisition, and he doesn’t work out, then we’re right back where we started with Marrero and Holt, and that’s a hole in your lineup come playoffs.
The man here is Jed Lowrie. He’s under contract for 2018 and can stabilize 3rd base for Devers when (hopefully) he’s a 21 year old every day player and 3rd. He’s 7th in the AL in doubles with 28, and was a Red Sox from 2008-2011. He’s probably the best 3rd baseman on the market, a far better option than Todd Frazier, and would absolutely give you a dependable backup plan if Devers doesn’t work out, and the cost wouldn’t be much.
The other is Zack Cozart. He’s a shortstop and would have to learn how to play 3rd on the fly, but Brian Butterfield is one of the best infield coached in the game and can make that happen. Being a shortstop is the concern, but he was the starter at short in the All-Star Game and is hitting .317 with a .966 OPS this season. He’s a free agent after the year, so the price wouldn’t be astronomical, but he’s still an All-Star starter, so the price wouldn’t be low. It wouldn’t be the worst move, but I don’t see the Sox wanting to run with Devers and a guy who’s never played 3rd in his career down the stretch.
Brock Holt has struggled, but he’ll likely stick with his versatility and Pedroia’s nagging knee issues. This means Deven Marrero is likely the odd man out. Despite his .216 average and overall bad hitting numbers, he’s hitting .286 with runners in scoring position and he’s has really stabilized 3rd base this season. He hasn’t been an MVP, but where would the Sox be at 3rd if it wasn’t for Marrero? It would be a bit of a shame to see him go back to Pawtucket, but that’s life. He’ll be back up in September or possibly earlier if Devers doesn’t work out.
But Devers is here.
The future is here.
And there won’t be a hole at 3rd base for long.
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