While the Red Sox 2019 campaign hasn’t been anything worthwhile for the fanbase, there’s been a development which has blossomed into something incredibly promising.
To start their championship defense, the infield was littered with a few up and coming superstars in the league in Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts coupled with a veteran presence in Mitch Moreland and the then anticipated return of Dustin Pedroia.
To state the obvious, things have changed in a hurry.
There’s no need to relive the history of the early stages of the season. But we witnessed the emergence of Michael Chavis once he made his highly anticipated Major League debut on April 20th following injuries to the second base position. It goes without saying, he stepped up in a major way when the club needed some sort of production coming for that position along with a spark to a team that was sliding fast.
Chavis made his presence felt immediately as he hammered 10 home runs within his first month and a half of his Major League career. It was understood relatively early that this wouldn’t be a short fill-in stint at Fenway Park. Instead, he would become a key focal point in a hot Red Sox offense.
While he was seeing success at second base, even after playing just four games at the position in Triple-A Pawtucket being that he was bred to be a corner infielder in the Minor League system, in my mind, he’s been the anticipated future first baseman of this team and that’s what appears to be developing.
With Mitch Moreland’s contract expiring following this season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team either bring Moreland back on a cheap one or two year deal that allows him to play a couple of times a week or let him sign with another organization. And if he were to choose the first option, he’d only be playing a couple of times a week because, during his absence, Chavis has proven that he can hold down the position just fine.
As far as the first base spot goes, the writing’s been on the wall. Timing for this move lined up seemingly perfect. With the expiring deals of the currently injured Moreland and Steve Pearce coupled with the emergence of a bright young prospect in Chavis, your succession plan is there and ready to be implemented.
The concern with Chavis coming up quickly through the system–aside from an 80-game suspension during the 2018 season after he tested positive for PEDs–was the blockade at the Major League level with Devers manning his natural position, third base. But with first ready for the taking following 2019, Chavis, I assume, will officially be stamped into your everyday lineup and will become a key fixture in Red Sox baseball.
Along with the emergence of Chavis this season, there has been another highly anticipated return–at least for me–which has paid dividends for the team with injuries littered throughout the roster.
Infielder Marco Hernandez, who was an up and coming star for the team prior to his shoulder injury in 2017 which then caused him to also miss all of 2018, has taken off since making his return back to the Red Sox Major League roster.
There was reason to be high on the infielder during 2016 when he played 40 games with the club and posted a .294 BA. He was proving then that he was a more than serviceable option for the organization as he was showing great athleticism along with strong productivity. But after 21 games with the Red Sox in 2017, he fell to the aforementioned injury–a left shoulder subluxation.
But now that he’s back and reminding people why he was seeing a decent amount of time in the Red Sox starting lineup, it’s becoming more and more evident that the Red Sox might have their infield for years to come.
With Hernandez back in the lineup more often, posting huge numbers at the plate in his 25 games–.345 BA, a .368 OBP, a .527 SLG and an .896 OP—the future for the club at the second base position doesn’t seem near as bleak as it once did.
The young core that fills around the infield is a great sign of encouragement for an organization whose farm system is heavily criticized–and for good reason. From Devers at third, Bogaerts at short–who you’ve locked up locked up through 2026 with a player option and vesting option in play–and potentially Hernandez at second and Chavis at first, the Red Sox infield is filled with solid defense and great offensive production.
Aside from what they can do while playing for the team, something else that this does is it gives the front office time to replenish the system itself. Now that you have a young core who you can maintain for a few years to come, the organization can draft and trade to bring in pieces to build up a farm system that’s in desperate need of a reboot—unless Dave Dombrowski decides to ship them all away again.
In a season where there hasn’t been a ton to be excited about, the potential that this young infield has is something worth noting because the hope is that it’ll be intact for a long, long time.