Posted on July 24, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
All season, the Boston Red Sox have struggled to find a permanent solution to their third base woes. But with a little over a week until the trade deadline, it appears they are forgoing the trade route in search of an answer. Instead, the Red Sox have chosen to promote top prospect Rafael Devers with the hopes that he will be the solution at third base they need heading down the stretch.
Devers is rated as the no. 12 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com. He has played in just nine games at triple-A after being promoted there from double-A earlier this month. In recent days, the Red Sox have let it be known how hesitant they are to call up Devers and put the 20-year old into the middle of a pennant race. Nevertheless, that is exactly what Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced following Sunday’s loss to the Angels.
“Our biggest concern with him has been that if we brought him up and he struggles, like a lot of guys do, how would he handle it? And our people feel that he would handle it well at this point,” Dombrowski explained. “They said that he’s ready to tackle that next step.”
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Earlier this week, the Red Sox appeared to be the front runners to land White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier in a trade. However, the rival Yankees were also engaged in trade talks with the White Sox and ended up landing Frazier in a blockbuster deal. There are a few more options on the trade market for the Red Sox to potentially explore. However, Dombrowski does not see any of them as appealing as calling up Devers.
“The options that had been presented to us, our people would say, ‘Why would you try that? Why don’t you try (Devers)?'” Dombrowski said. “He’s in a position where he can do it. The request for some of the (trade candidates) that would be minimally better for us have been very large. And so, we really think (Devers) gives us as good a chance as anybody we’ve had a chance to acquire for third base.”
In the past, the Red Sox have been unafraid to bring up their top prospects in the middle of a playoff race, no matter how young they are. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was just 20 when he was called to the big leagues in August 2013. He ended up being a contributor on a team that won the World Series that year. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi was also called up under similar circumstances last season.
Of course, the Red Sox will try to ease Devers in as much as possible. The plan is for him to sit Monday and then start his first big league game on Tuesday. Red Sox manager John Farrell says the left-hand hitting Devers will initially get most of his at-bats against right-handed pitchers. At first, Devers figures to platoon with Deven Marrero.
“We’re not going to put (too much) pressure on him,” said Dombrowski. “We’re not looking for him to carry us. We just want him to be himself and do what he can do. And really it’s going to be up to other guys to kind of have to step up and be the main guys in the middle of the order.”
In 77 games at double-A this year, Devers was hitting .300 with 18 home runs. During his brief stint at triple-A, he was 14 for 35 (.400). Based on that small sample size, it would appear that Devers at least has a fighting chance to handle a promotion to the majors. The Red Sox are taking a risk by calling up Devers instead of trading for an established veteran at third base. But the club has done this before, and believe it’s a risk that will pay off for them in the long run.