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2023 Offseason Outlook: Third Base

Sign Rafael Devers please.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Over the course of this series, Jake Devereaux will go position by position around the diamond to look at what options the Red Sox have for each position in 2023. He’ll look at what players are currently under team control or under contract, who’s in the upper minors, and what options there are in free agency. And finally, he’ll give his suggestions for how the Sox should approach each position. We hope this will serve as a useful primer to what we expect to be a pivotal offseason for the team. Here’s his look at the second base situation, and here’s our complete hot stove coverage.

Players On The Roster In 2023

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Rafael Devers. Ever heard of him? You know that guy that we all want John Henry to pay so we can watch the rest of his illustrious career take place in a Red Sox uniform? Oh you thought I was talking about Xander Bogaerts? Stay tuned for next week’s column when I talk about the other guy we all want to see stay here forever, but I digress.

As it stands today, Devers remains a member of the Red Sox, but just for one more season. It is very much in the interest of the team to get Devers’ contract extension taken care of this off-season so they can avoid allowing the other 29 teams to make him offers he simply can’t refuse. The Red Sox have a truly special player in Devers, and someone that players like David Ortiz and Adrián Beltré speak glowingly about.

Players like Devers don’t come around often. In fact, through his age 25 season, he has really separated himself from nearly every other player in the 121-year history of the team. Devers is second behind only Tony Conigliaro in home runs, and fourth in RBI behind Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams and Conigliaro. The duo of Doerr and Williams are in the Hall of Fame, and had Conigliaro’s career not been cut short, he might have been as well. Needless to say, this is the type of guy you give a long term contract to.

In addition to Devers, Bobby Dalbec and Christian Arroyo spent some time at the hot corner this past season. Dalbec is in his last year of pre-arbitration and Arroyo is likely to be brought back at a reasonable sum in his second year of arbitration. Neither player is someone you want to be a starter.

Players In The Upper Minors With A Chance To Contribute In 2023

T-Mobile Home Run Derby
Pictured: Blaze Jordan, a guy who won’t be playing third base for the Boston Red Sox in 2023.
Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

There really isn’t a lot in the system at third base and there are certainly no players on the cusp of impacting the major league roster. Alex Binelas, who came over as part of the Hunter Renfroe trade, played both third and first base for High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland last year. His defense at third is fringy at best and SoxProspects currently has him projected as the designated hitter in Portland, repeating Double-A in 2023. He struggled at Double-A last year and still feels very far away.

Christian Koss spent time at shortstop, second base, and third base across High-A and Double-A last year and is a sure-handed glove, however, his bat lacks impact. Further down in the minor leagues, Blaze Jordan looked quite good offensively and plays a passable third base. As he has yet to reach Double-A yet he wouldn’t be a realistic option for 2023 and when he is ready he may have outgrown the position. Two players to keep an eye on for the future are Freili Encarnacion and Cutter Coffey; both could have impact bats but are years away.

Options In Free Agency

Championship Series - San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four
Pictured: Brandon Drury, a guy who hopefully won’t be playing third base for the Boston Red Sox in 2023.
Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

Aside from a couple of serviceable old players in Evan Longoria and Justin Turner, there isn’t much to get excited about in free agency. This route makes little to no sense for the Red Sox since they have one of the top players at the position in Devers. Should the Red Sox sign Brandon Drury of the San Diego Padres, who I’ve mentioned in previous pieces in this series, he could get some time at third base. Overall, the market is tremendously weak and they should focus on getting something done long-term with Devers.

My Suggestion

Keep trying to sign Devers and don’t overthink it. Is he perfect? No. Is he close to it? Yes. The defense has gotten better and the offense is elite; this is the type of player you build your franchise around. Devers graded out at -2 OAA in 2022 and was pretty much neutral on all plays except for those he had to come in on. For that kind of offense you can put up with an average defensive third baseman.