Meanwhile, Travis Shaw has been raking at Miller Field, while all the while playing his usual brand of solid defense at third base and even second base. He’s been worth 3.5 WAR in 2017 and 3.6 WAR in 2018! That’s while making the league minimum salary. In his first year of arbitration, he’s due for another 2.6 WAR according to Steamer… Whoops…
The good news for the Red Sox is that master team-builder Dave Dombrowski is able to cover for his only major misstep with the team. The Sox have a very solid young player in Rafael Devers - who could be just as valuable as Shaw in 2019. They also have two young players that may be decent players at the hot corner at some point, as well. Let’s see what the Sox have here.
2019 Steamer Projection: 560 PA, .270/.328/.476, .340 wOBA, 7.1 batting runs, 0.8 baserunning runs, -2.6 fielding runs. 2.6 WAR
2019 ZiPS Projection: .265/.320/.480, -6 defense, 1.9 WAR
Devers is only 22 years old. He had a 1 WAR season with a .240/.298/.433 batting line and 21 HR. That’s not bad for a 21 year old, who was probably a bit overmatched. His -13 Defensive Runs Saved and -5.2 UZR/150 show he wasn’t quite ready with the glove, either. If the projections are right and he becomes simply below average with the glove, he’s an above average player. ZiPS is probably right to be skeptical about his defense. Even then, he’s probably at least an average regular - which for the league minimum and his power upside, the Sox will be happy to take.
Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez are certain to see perhaps a dozen games apiece at third base. But, you really don’t want either holding down the position all year. The good news is that the Red Sox are not devoid of third base prospects.
2019 Steamer Projection: .248/.300/.439, -0.1 defense
2019 ZiPS Projection: .242/.299/.449, -1 defense, 1.1 WAR
Chavis isn’t even on Steamer’s radar to have much more than a 7 at-bat cup of coffee. However, it agrees with ZiPS that Chavis is very likely to be about what Devers was last year in 2019 if he played full-time in the Majors. Of course, he’s going to be 24 in August 2019. His defense is known to be shaky, too, which is why he’s been shifting towards first base. The good news is that Chavis could still have some value. He would actually worth be giving a shot if he shows promise at AAA and Devers is failing or hurt.
After all, Chavis did hit .303/.388/.508 in 139 AA at-bats and .273/.294/.545 in 34 AAA at-bats, with an 80-game PED suspension mixed in. The power is real, and he has enough plate discipline to not embarrass himself. If he can become a passable third baseman, or even first baseman, he actually does have a future. It could even be late 2019 or early 2020.
2019 Steamer Projection: .229/.295/.432, 0 defense
2019 ZiPS Projection: .200/.280/.407, 0 defense, 0.5 WAR
Dalbec probably has no business being in the MLB in 2019, but if he got 450 or so at-bats, he’s probably going to be fairly above replacement level. Of course, that’s considering neutral defense. Scouts consider his defense to be adequate and he has an above-average arm. So, netural defense is probably fine to consider.
In 2018, Dalbec destroyed A+ ball with a .256/.372/.573 and 26 HR in 419 plate appearances, albeit with a 31% strikeout rate. He hit .261.323.514 in 124 plate appearance, but with a 37% strikeout rate. Steamer is a bit more optimistic about Dalbec’s bat than ZiPS going into his age-24 season. The strikeouts are concerning, though.
If Dalbec can trim the strikeouts and fare OK at AAA, there’s still a possibility that Dalbec tastes the majors in 2020. At any rate, he’s the Sox #12 prospect at the moment.
Even after essentially giving away Travis Shaw, it seems like the Sox aren’t in that bad of shape. Of course, one of Chavis or Dalbec becoming at least a passable regular at either first or third base would be a grand development for the 2020 season. If both pan out, along with Devers, the Red Sox are in good shape. Otherwise, that Travis Shaw trade could haunt the Red Sox for awhile. Still, when that’s the worst move you make and still win a championship, you’re doing OK.
Red Sox Third Base: B-minus