Welcome for another edition of our staff roundtable. While all of the Mookie Betts stuff has taken over the site and our minds in general this week, we decided to go in a different direction this time around and focus on a player who actually will be on the roster in 2020. We’re going to look at Michael Chavis, whose potential everyday first base job was taken away with the signing for Mitch Moreland. So, the question this week is simply: What kind of role do you want to see from Michael Chavis this season?
The good news for Michael Chavis is the pressure feels a little off. Both he and Bobby Dalbec are going to be given chance after chance in the coming season, as barring the unexpected, the Red Sox will not be competing for a playoff appearance following the trade of their best player and their second best starting pitcher.
After Moreland signed, I was a little concerned about where Chavis would end up. We had signed José Peraza to presumably play more than a handful of games, and we also picked up a rule five prospect who it feels we are much more likely to keep now, in Jonathan Arauz. Where I think this leaves Chavis is in a semi-utility role, where he’ll be playing the Brock Holt position around the field. He’ll spell Mitch Moreland, Peraza, and perhaps Andrew Benintendi, Alex Verdugo, and Rafael Devers throughout the course of the season. And once Dalbec is up (if he’s up to stay), I imagine Chavis will become more utility than he should be to start the season.
I mostly want Chavis to get playing time. 2020 feels like a bridge year, and those are the perfect kinds of years to get a ton of development in and focus on the individuals on the team. Work on improving Chavis, Verdugo, and Graterol, as those three represent MLB ready talents that aren’t all the way there yet.
Provided Chavis is given playing time, I have the highest expectations that he can fill in the Brock Holt sized hole in our hearts.
While Michael Chavis arrived at the big leagues with a bang, he fluttered out towards the end of the 2019 season. Chavis batted .263 with an OPS of .800 in 69 games before the All-Star break, however, in the second half hit just .221 with an OPS of .650. Some of his decline can be attributed to an extraordinary amount of good luck in the first half, but also to pitchers adjusting and finding his weaknesses at the plate.
Despite this, Chavis is young, and flashed potential throughout the minors. In addition, the lack of other options at second base leave the Red Sox with no choice but to give him an opportunity. The signing of José Peraza should in no way affect Chavis’ playing time; Peraza was quite ineffective at the plate last year, and is not a significantly better defender than Chavis has proven to be in limited playing time. I would like to see him as an everyday player in 2020, whether it’s at second base or filling in at first base if Mitch Moreland is platooned like he has been in the past.
The Red Sox should be trying to get Chavis into the lineup every day. Although he was technically below average last season (96 OPS+), he could really wallop the ball when he made contact. There are plenty of guys with power on the roster even with Mookie Betts gone, but adding another powerful hitter can’t hurt, especially if Chavis improves on last season.
In order to get Chavis playing time, I think the best move would be to have him settle into one position. I’d eventually like to see him become the permanent starter at first base based on his defensive abilities. In fact, before Mitch Moreland resigned, I was all for Chavis being the starter at first this year. I see Moreland as more of an insurance policy. He’s clearly not the long-term answer but he will help give Chavis another season to really get comfortable before potentially taking on the starting role next season. With Moreland in the fold, I’d still like the Red Sox do their best to get Chavis as much playing time as possible, even if that means he plays all around the field for another year.
The best use of Michael Chavis is to showcase his versitality. Give him the bulk of the playing time at second base and set up a rotation in left field where he and J.D. Martinez share time there whenever Andrew Benintendi or Jackie Bradley is out of the lineup or DHing.
Chavis has a ton of power, which is a nice find in the middle infield should the ball ever deaden a bit. It’s always good to plan for the future so you don’t get caught in an unenviable position.
With any luck, the new manager will be open to new ideas, shifts, and experimentation. If not, it’s time to close the book on Dustin Pedroia and find a permanant second baseman. In that case, you have one: Michael Chavis.
Mammoth home run hitter, that’s the role I want Michael Chavis to have in 2020. It is truly bizarre to me that Chavis can smash any breaking pitch he sees but the high heat eats his lunch. Hopefully Mr. Chavis spent the off-season working on fixing that gap in his skill set. If he can hit that pitch consistently then he should be playing either first or second base every day giving way to Mitch Moreland or Jose Peraza when the matchup calls for it, but playing every day. We should see Chavis in the lineup no matter what with Moreland and Peraza used as part time players. The defense was much better than expected at second and first last year and the bat has potential to be special. The Red Sox will need real contributions from Chavis to help make up for the loss of Mookie Betts in this offense.
Chavis was one of the few bright spots from last season and his initial call-up was perhaps the most exciting part of the season as a fan. His power is undeniable, and that alone should be enough for him to get something close to everyday at bats during the season. As I mentioned in the intro, there is some question as to whether or not that can happen now with Moreland in the picture.
Overall, the Moreland signing is probably a long-term positive for Chavis, giving him a very good defensive first baseman with a knack for leadership to learn from. That’s huge given how inexperienced he is at the position. In the short-term, however, that’s taking away playing time. Ultimately, I think Chavis should play something like six out of every seven games (that’s a 139-game pace over a full season), with most of that time coming at second base. He’ll fill in at first against lefties for Moreland, but will probably be blocked out most days against righties there. I’d also like to see him get some time in left field, potentially playing some there against lefties as well, particularly if/when Bobby Dalbec forces his way into the picture. Ultimately, though, I think Chavis will probably play less than I’d like.
I dunno if you saw Frozen 2, but there’s an ice horse. It’s technically a water horse (as all ice horses are!), but Elsa freezes it and rides it and it’s a big part of the movie, always showing up at the right time to help her out of jams. With the signing of José Peraza to presumably play second base, I see Michael Chavis, the Ice Horse himself, playing a similar role to his onscreen avatar, showing up wherever and whenever you need him to get the job done. Put another way, Chavis is going to be the next Brock Holt whether he likes it or not, and with Mookie Betts out the door there’s gonna be playing time to go around, all over the diamond, for Chavis to pick up some starts and round the bat into shape. With big-time prospects at the corners in the system in Triston Casas and Bobby Dalbec, it looks like Chavis is destined to be an itinerant member of the Sox for years to come.
Chavis has a chance to be an interesting player this year. His defensive limitations prevent him from starting 162 games a year at a second base, but we can work around that by shifting him around the diamond. The Sox are left-handed enough to make this work, too. One day he spells Mitch Moreland against a tough lefty. The next day he plays left field and bumps Benintendi to center to give Jackie days off against lefties. Once a week at third base to give Devers rest. It doesn’t look like Brock Holt is coming back, so Chavis can effectively take over his original role when he debuted back in 2014. This is a similar situation the Mets have with J.D. Davis, except J.D. is going to start 130 games at third base despite being under equipped for the position. If Chavis is used as a rover this year maybe this team will convince me that they’re actually not the Mets.