After Sunday’s loss in Los Angeles, the Red Sox announced their intention to promote top prospect Rafael Devers to the majors starting with the series in Seattle that is set to begin on Monday. It is also worth noting that we are currently a week away from the trade deadline and the Red Sox are still waiting to make their first move of this trade season. These two things are related, as calling up your top prospect just a week before the end of (arguably) the busiest trade season of the calendar year is sure to have an impact on a team’s plans. Let’s take a look at the positions the Red Sox could look to upgrade and how Devers’ promotion could impact their hunt for talent at that position.
Obviously, this has been the primary position of focus for the Red Sox throughout this trade season. Also obviously, Devers’ promotion has a massive effect on what the organization is planning to do at this position. There has been some speculation that this promotion could just be a trial so Boston can see if Devers is good enough that they don’t need to look for outside help at the hot corner. Quite frankly, I feel like that strategy would be absurd. Devers is expected to only start against righties to start his career, and with the Red Sox facing off against the left-handed James Paxton on Monday the third base prospect won’t make his first career start on Tuesday. With an off-day on Thursday, that gives Devers only five starts — at most — to allow the Red Sox to make a decision on the future at his position. Making an important judgement based off that wouldn’t make much sense.
More likely, to me, is that they are committed to the idea of Devers being their primary third baseman. With that being said, I don’t think this takes them out of the third base market entirely, but will instead make them a more passive member who will be looking more for a secondary piece that hits from the right side. Jed Lowrie, then, would be out of the picture. Instead, they’d be looking at players like Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera and David Freese. One could reasonably argue that just sticking with Deven Marrero alongside Devers would be preferable to that — and they could very well be right — but don’t be shocked if the Red Sox look for someone like this as part of a package deal with another position we’ll discuss below.
In my eyes, this will be the primary focus for the Red Sox now that they will no longer have such a clear need at third base. It’s always seemed like the Red Sox were going to be looking at help for the back of their bullpen in front of Craig Kimbrel, and I would expect the names to which they’re linked to remain the same. That means guys like Addison Reed, Pat Neshek and Justin Wilson are all still very much on the table for the Red Sox. Where Devers comes into play in this scenario is that the Red Sox are less likely to be priced out in these trade talks now. Although they will still have a maximum price they’ll be willing to pay for any reliever, they no longer have another glaring hole to fix that would prevent them from paying too much for relief help. In other words, the prospect value they may have had to save for third base just a few days ago can now be put towards the bullpen if the situation calls for it. As I said last week, Dave Dombrowski isn’t as prone to overpays as his reputation may suggest, so having more prospects from which to deal is a good thing in my eyes.
Earlier this month, I looked at the possibility of trading for a catcher given Sandy Leon’s and Christian Vazquez’ lack of offensive production of late. I mainly focused on Jonathan Lucroy as a possibility, but others like Alex Avila of the Tigers could be available as well. Honestly, I don’t really see this happening unless the price for one of the available catchers falls so low that Dombrowski couldn’t possibly say no. Either way, I’m not sure Devers’ promotion has any impact at all on this situation.
First Base/Designated Hitter
If Devers’ promotion has an impact on any potential trade market, it could be this one. Even with the new young hitter in the lineup, Boston’s lineup could still use a little more impact. One could argue (and I probably would) that the best and most likely source of impact would simply come from players like Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez consistently performing like we expect them to. With that being said, adding a big bat from outside the organization could still be extremely helpful and first base seems like the most logical position to which the team could add. Now, I’ not expecting a blockbuster here — the non-rumor started by Alex Rodriguez that connected the Red Sox to Miguel Cabrera was crazy at the time and still is now. However, a smaller move with Lucas Duda (perhaps packaged with Flores/Rivera and Reed?) could make some sense. The highest up this marketplace I could see them going this summer would be for someone like Yonder Alonso.
Either way, this market depends entirely on how they feel about Mitch Moreland moving forward. If they think he was playing far over his head to start the year and/or his toe injury is going to affect him for the rest of the year, getting some reinforcements could be helpful. I would probably still bet against them bringing in a new first baseman, but it certainly has become more likely after Devers’ promotion took them out of the top tier of the third base market.