After months of rumors about which third baseman the Red Sox might pursue on the trade market (Mike Moustakas! Todd Frazier! Manny Machado! Josh Harrison!), it appears Boston will plug its biggest hole internally, at least for now.
On Sunday, Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski announced the team will call up Rafael Devers, the No. 12 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Devers will become the youngest player in the Major Leagues.
Big news. Dave Dombrowski just announced the @RedSox are calling up top prospect Rafael Devers. Will make first start on Tuesday in Seattle.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) July 23, 2017
Though Devers’ glove isn’t considered Major-League-ready, the 20-year-old can really hit. He batted .300/.369/.575 in Double-A this season, which earned him a promotion to Triple-A, where he in turn hit .400/.447/.600.
With a week to go before the trade deadline, the Red Sox likely want to take a look at Devers before they decide how aggressively to pursue a deal for a third baseman.
Promotion of Rafael Devers makes sense now. Watch him for the next 5-6 days, see what you see, and if he's overwhelmed, make a move.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 23, 2017
One way or another, the first-place Red Sox need some production out of third base. As of Monday morning, Boston third basemen have collectively hit .228/.286/.309 for a .596 OPS that ranks dead last in baseball at the position.
Here are the 2017 statistics of the motley crew the Red Sox have tried at third base, after trading sudden world-beater Travis Shaw to Milwaukee last offseason:
Deven Marrero (162 plate appearances): .216/.258/.324, three home runs, 47 wRC+
Josh Rutledge (118 plate appearances): .224/.297/.262, zero home runs, 49 wRC+
Pablo Sandoval (108 plate appearances): .212/.269/.354, four home runs, 59 wRC+
Marco Hernandez (60 plate appearances): .276/.300/.328, zero home runs, 63 wRC+
Tzu-Wei Lin (59 plate appearances): .280/.379/.360, zero home runs, 101 wRC+
Brock Holt (50 plate appearances): .209/.300/.209, zero home runs, 39 wRC+
Steve Selsky (nine plate appearances): .111/.111/.222, zero home runs, -32 wRC+
Ideally, the Red Sox would find an established third baseman via trade, but their options are drying up. With the Royals back in contention, Moustakas is off the market. The Orioles have said they won’t trade Machado. Donaldson feels unlikely to be moved. And Frazier wound up on the hated Yankees.
The Sox still have some options, but they’d surely prefer Devers play well this week and stake a claim to the position. The alternative could be over-paying for Martin Prado or some equally undesirable outcome.