Sep 16, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the New York Yankees 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
As it stands:
Three quarters of the Red Sox infield are filled with certainty as Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, and Xander Bogaerts are all locks to start at first base, second base, and shortstop, respectively. However, the Red Sox have no clearcut candidate to play third base as Will Middlebrooks (.191/.256/.265 in 63 games in 2014) has likely seen his last of the starting job, midseason breakout star Brock Holt faded down the stretch, and Garin Cecchini is too young and raw to be trusted as an everyday starter immediately.
Course of action:
With third base the only area of weakness on the Red Sox infield or outfield and a decent amount of spending money, I would splurge on one of the top free agent options at the position.
- There are a few strong options at third base on the free agent market but Chase Headley offers the best combination of affordability and expected performance. While Headley was having a horrible season for the Padres through his first 77 games, slashing a meager .229/.296/.355, but he turned his season around after a midseason trade to the Yankees. In New York, Headley hit .262/.371/.398 and significantly raised his free agent stock in 58 games with the Bronx Bombers. In addition to his high-OBP hitting style that would mesh well with Boston’s approach, Headley also brings elite third base defense. All things considered and with no major third base prospects nearing Major League ready, I wouldn’t hesitate to sign Headley to a 3 year/$36M deal.
The final product:
With Headley at third base, it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider Boston’s infield one of the best in baseball. Pedroia and Napoli, after a chance to recover from the health troubles which plagued both of them, are each excellent both offensively and defensively when healthy. Similarly, Xander Bogaerts will hopefully rebound from a shaky rookie season and deliver on the hype which made him one of the best prospects in all of baseball before the season.
With those four players starting, the Red Sox would also have Brock Holt and Allen Craig as potential backups.