We’ve spent a lot of the past couple of months in this strange, baseball-less world looking back on Red Sox history, and we will continue to do just that. We don’t often have the time for that kind of stuff, so that is a rare upside from this. For this week, though, I’m going to look a little bit forward. We’re going to be trying to find the next Red Sox players to win each major award. For the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP we’ll be running down multiple candidates for that one award. Today, though, we’re going to go with the position-based awards of Gold Glove and Silver Sluggers, and I’ll just make my prediction for each at each position.
Gold Glove: Christian Vázquez
Silver Slugger: Connor Wong
Vázquez seemingly has at least a key role behind the plate locked down for the Red Sox for a few years now. He may not play a ton like some other catchers, but that kind of role is becoming more and more rare around the league, and isn’t a requirement to win this award. Vázquez has what you’re looking for from a prospective Gold Glove winner behind the plate with a combination of metrics, big arm, reputation in the game and among the media and a bat that is improving. It’s a tough position to crack the top, but it would be far from an upset if he got there.
As for the Silver Slugger, while Vázquez’s bat is on the rise I don’t see it reaching Silver Slugger type status. That means we have to go to the farm or out of the organization. I chose the former with Wong. The recent acquisition from the Mookie Betts trade has some hit tool questions that need to be answered, but he should play enough catcher even if he’s more of a utility guy and has the power to really stand out at this position.
Gold Glove: Triston Casas
Silver Slugger: Triston Casas
We’re going with (arguably) the top prospect in the organization in both spots here. I had some temptation for Mitch Moreland or Bobby Dalbec for the Gold Glove spot, but I’m not sure they’ll have the playing time to make that work. Dalbec has a better case, but there’s enough uncertainty in enough areas for me to shy away.
For Casas, there is obviously plenty more development left, but in terms of the most likely in the organization to take these awards it has to be him. I’m a big Michael Chavis fan, but he’s at least a tier below on both sides of the ball. Casas’s bat certainly looks legit early in his career, and the reports of his defense have been encouraging as well.
Gold Glove: Jeter Downs
Silver Slugger: Jeter Downs
I said Casas was arguably the top prospect in the system. If you do not think he holds that spot, then chances are you would put Downs there. Another acquisition from the Betts trade, Downs is a pretty easy call here. José Peraza and/or Chavis could surprise us a bit if there’s a 2020 season, but neither are good bets to be award-worthy. Downs is close to being ready and in a normal year would have been a borderline candidate for a late 2020 call-up. As it stands, he could take over everyday at second base as early as next year, and while I wouldn’t bet on him being an annual candidate for both of these awards he’s still easily the best candidate in the organization.
Gold Glove: Matthew Lugo
Silver Slugger: Xander Bogaerts
I’ll start with the obvious here. Bogaerts is clearly the best candidate for Silver Slugger. He’s arguably the favorite in the American League for the next couple of years. For Gold Glove, though, you have to look down the road in my eyes. I would agree with those who say Bogaerts is underrated by some defensive metrics — he’s not the worst defensive player in the league like DRS tends to say — but he’s also never winning a Gold Glove. If he finishes a season as an average defensive player, I think that’s a win. He’s also going to hold down this position for at least a few more years, so you have to look at lower-level prospects. Lugo is still very raw and I’m certainly not trying to put Gold Glove expectations on him right now, but I buy the glove enough to stay there and there is athleticism there for him to develop into a positive at the position.
Gold Glove: Bobby Dalbec
Silver Slugger: Rafael Devers
Similarly to shortstop, the Silver Slugger is obvious. Devers is a monster and it’s almost certain he’s going to stay at the hot corner. That said, while he took a major step forward defensively I don’t see a Gold Glove in his future. I could be more easily talked into him winning than Bogaerts, to be fair, but still I am not seeing it. So, let me throw out this scenario. There’s a 2020 season. Devers hits well but regresses again defensively. Dalbec and Chavis both hit extremely well. The universal DH is implemented, opening up J.D. Martinez’s market. Is it possible they move Martinez (or he opts out) and they just move Devers to DH? I wouldn’t bet on it, but there’s no other options here I like.
Gold Glove: Andrew Benintendi
Silver Slugger: Andrew Benintendi
This is an obvious one to me, with the only caveat being that they may move him to center field for 2021. I don’t expect that and think it would be a mistake. Benintendi’s reputation with the glove is a little better than the actual play in my opinion, but A) that matters in Gold Glove voting and B) he’s still good out there. The bat, meanwhile, has been disappointing but I still believe in the talent. Ultimately I think he settles in a tier below award-worthy on both sides of the ball, but he’s still young enough and there’s still enough apparent talent that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win either of these awards.
Gold Glove: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Silver Slugger: George Springer
The Gold Glove hinges on a 2020 season happening, which is far from a guarantee. If they do play, though, Bradley Jr. is right in the running for the award just like he is every year. Again, some metrics are weirdly down on him, but they can get all the way out of here. He is still out of this world with the glove.
He’s also likely to be gone next year. I thought about going with Jarren Duran or Gilberto Jimenez here, but I’m going out of the organization and saying the Red Sox make a splash and sign Springer to replace Bradley. Again, this depends on a 2020 season to reset the tax penalties, and I’m still not sure I buy they’d make this move, but why not dream big?
Gold Glove: Alex Verdugo
Silver Slugger: Alex Verdugo
We haven’t seen Verdugo play in a Red Sox uniform, or much at all on a consistent basis in the majors, but it’s clear they see him as the right fielder of the future. He has the tools to take both of these awards, though. I’m interested in seeing how he handles right field at Fenway because that is a difficult place to play, but he has played center field and has the arm, so if he can figure out the angles he’ll be good out there. Offensively the lack of power will hurt him, but he can have a year or two where the hit tool maxes out and luck is on his side and he manages to sneak this award in. Also, to answer your question, I did think about putting Mookie Betts here just to make myself feel better, but I truly believe that ain’t happening.
Silver Slugger: J.D. Martinez
I don’t know how long he’s staying in Boston, but the man won two Silver Sluggers in 2018. I’m not betting against him here.