The Red Sox acknowledged over the weekend that they were discussing ways that top prospect Yoan Moncada might be able to help the team in the final month of 2016.
With Moncada having finally made the shift to third base in recent days, many will jump to the conclusion that this means Moncada taking over the starting role at the hot corner much in the way Andrew Benintendi quickly took over left field after his arrival in Fenway. And there's some reason for that. While the Red Sox lead all of baseball in offense, their third baseman haven't even come close to league average offense on the season. Outside of the disastrous bullpen, it's probably the one area of greatest need for the Red Sox.
There's more to the story than just that, though. For one thing, as bad as they've been as a unit, it's really been Aaron Hill that's brought their average down. He's hit just .194/.265/.247 since joining the team, and hasn't even been any good against the lefties he was brought in to hit. As the long end in that particular platoon, Travis Shaw still doesn't look amazing, but he's at least a tenable .261/.334/.443 hitter against right-handed pitching on the year. If Hill was holding up his end of the bargain, things might not look quite so bad.
Unfortunately, Moncada doesn't actually fill the team's greatest need in this situation. Or, at least, certainly can't be relied on to. Moncada did reasonably well against lefties in High-A Salem, though his .797 OPS against them was not nearly so good as against righties. In Double-A Portland, though, the more advanced competition has shown the ability to really keep Moncada in check when he's batting right-handed. Not only is he only hitting to a .710 OPS, but he's struck out 19 times in just 35 at bats.
He's not completely lost against them, no, and his ability to hit lefties in his debut season would suggest that he's going to come around. But at the moment, likely due to a lack of experience against left-handed secondary offerings, Moncada has looked vulnerable. Expecting him to overcome that in the majors when he doesn't seem to have established a proper foundation in Double-A is fairly questionable.
That being said...there's still right-handed pitchers. And while yes, Travis Shaw has still been decent against them, it might not hurt to try out the top young prospect who has just completely and utterly crushed every righty who's been thrown his way. I'm not saying he starts every game, especially given his relative inexperience at third, but the Red Sox don't have a whole lot to lose giving him a shot or two against a right-handed pitcher to show them he's capable of giving them the sort of sudden spark that Andrew Benintendi had brought before he got hurt. Much as it pains me to admit it, losing Travis Shaw from the lineup for a few games is not nearly the risk the Red Sox had hoped it would be back during his red-hot start.
If nothing else, the Red Sox are very likely to bring up Moncada simply to have him available in some basic utility roles and to have him around the team for a bit before he joins them on a more permanent basis in 2017. But if he's not ready to be the total package for them just yet, there's no reason not to at least try him out in a larger role while there's relatively little competition to be had at the spot.