Red Sox: Return of shortstop Jose Iglesias could solve third base problem

Aug 31, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) hits a single in the third inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 31, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) hits a single in the third inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Third base for the Boston Red Sox is the weak link that everyone fully realizes. Is there a possible solution with moving Xander Bogaerts to third and having Jose Iglesias return?

Is Jose Iglesias a better shortstop than Xander Bogaerts? The answer is both yes and no and I am sure on the yes option we could all agree if I restated.  Is Iglesias and better defensive shortstop than Bogaerts? No question about that.  We saw it in Boston and we see it occasionally when the Detroit Tigers play the Red Sox.

As a Red Sox farmhand, the mantra for Iglesias was “If he could only hit?”

In 2013, Iglesias started to hit, as in a .330 average to go along with his superlative glove work. The Red Sox rewarded their patience with Jose and traded him away in a three-way deal. The Red Sox motivation was understandable as they assumed Iglesias hitting was an illusion and when he hit .259 for the Tigers that proved correct.

More from Red Sox News

Boston also had a $10 Million invested in Stephen Drew to play short and Drew hit .253 for the Red Sox and certainly represented an upgrade offensively and a step down defensively.  Or was it?  If you place supreme faith in metrics, Drew was simply better with the glove, but certainly lacked the flashy style points Iglesias was capable of. If you go beyond supreme faith and absolutely adore WAR then Drew posted an fWAR of 3.4 to Iglesias’s 1.9 fWAR.

The final part of that deal was Jake Peavy and the Red Sox needed pitching. Peavy was nothing special but did finish 4-1 in ten starts to help solidify the Red Sox rotation.  And Bogaerts? He arrived at just 20-years-old to play third base and wait to inherit short.

Now fast forward to 2017. Iglesias is an established major league player after missing an entire 2014 season.  A .300 hitter and All-Star in 2015 and a steady defensive force at short. Offensively Iglesias has hit .273 for the Tigers in four seasons. That answers “If he could only hit?”

More from Red Sox News

Iglesias would be a defensive upgrade over Bogaerts.  Bogaerts is certainly not an incompetent glove, but remains an average one.  This season on UZR/150 Bogaerts is negative (-0.4) and Iglesias is positive (13.4). From my eyeball observation, I simply see him as a better defensive option than Bogaerts and you certainly need glove work up the middle.

The second part of the question I led with is a slam dunk for Bogaerts in any debate – offense.  No contest. Bogaerts may win a batting title someday and I can safely say Iglesias will not. Bogaerts has more power, discipline, and potential.  If I have Sophie’s Choice between the two with no other options it would be Bogaerts.  No question about that, but there is an option and it is a potential minefield.

Bogaerts played third – or should I say third played Bogaerts? The metrics show a level that is near Butch Hobson status for his 442. 2 innings at third. An embarrassing -31.8 UZR/150 and -10 on defensive runs saved.  A sieve at third and we all remember it well.  You get Iglesias you have to move XB to third. I would risk it.

The risk is all based on baseball maturity.  Bogaerts has matured as a hitter and he certainly can as a defensive player.  Even Wade Boggs eventually won a Gold Glove. Bogaert’s future is often connected to third and maybe it is the time the Red Sox explored that option. The only viable option is their No. 1 prospect, Rafael Devers. Devers’ weak point is his defense.

Third base is a Red Sox disaster area – a baseball Three Mile Island. Pablo Sandoval can’t field, run, throw or hit. Deven Marrero may be a new entry on baseball linguistics with the adoption of the Marrero Line. Josh Rutledge is a utility player.  Brock Holt is a giant question mark.

Next: Red Sox Strut

Then getting Iglesias is the next stone wall to climb.  Assume they manage to accomplish that another potential wrench is tossed into the gear – health.  Iglesias is a baseball Faberge Egg. Can he stay on the field for 140 games? If he can you have about a solid defensive shortstop as anywhere. No harm in kicking the tires.