Red Sox promotion of Rafael Devers a response to the thin trade market

MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Rafael Devers
MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Rafael Devers /

Did the Red Sox call up top prospect Rafael Devers out of desperation? Or because he was the best player available? The answers aren’t mutually exclusive.

As we know, the Red Sox weren’t desperate (or dumb) enough to start Pablo Sandoval at third again and they weren’t comfortable resting on Deven Marrero/Tzu-Wei Lin/Brock Holt for the duration of the season. Overall, Boston third basemen have hit .228/.286/.309 with a wRC+ of 55, so there was definitely a sense of desperation. Why not trade for one of the many players available on the trade market, then?

Aside from Todd Frazier, whose price rose exponentially when packaged with David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, it’s not apparent that any of the other third basemen would have been a real upgrade. Asdrubal Cabrera, Eduardo Nunez, David Freese, and Martin Prado were all linked to Boston, but the club decided to promote a 20-year old anyway. They’re all better than what the Red Sox have been getting out of their third basemen so far, but none have the ability to do what Rafael Devers can.

In 77 Double-A games and nine Triple-A games. Devers has 20 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 54 runs scored. He slashed .300/.369/.575 before earning a promotion, and has shown that he’s more than prepared for Triple-A pitching hitting .400/.447/.600 since. Signed as an international free agent in 2013, all Devers has done since turning pro is hit against every level of competition. For that, he seems far more prepared to shine under the lights in Boston than Yoan Moncada was last year or even Xander Bogaerts in 2013.

Devers, like Moncada and Bogaerts, is another of the Red Sox’ 20-year-old prospects to be promoted during a second-half run at the playoffs. Moncada showed his inexperience during his eight game audition last season, while Bogaerts proved he belonged during a World Series run. What makes Devers different from the two of them, is that he’ll be expected to play a lot more than a complimentary role for the team.

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Time is running out for the Red Sox to find an everyday third baseman, with just a week left before the non-waiver trade deadline. They had their chance to land Frazier, who wasn’t (and isn’t) going to be a game-changer for this lineup. Of all the names left on the trade board, it’s hard to envision any being game-changers, but all would be expected to take over the starting role regardless. Promoting Devers puts him in that same position, except he has the raw offensive ability to provide a spark in a lineup that desperately needs one.

For better or worse, Devers was the best player available. That doesn’t mean he’s a sure thing to immediately step in and turn the offense around. But he could, and has a better chance of doing so than anyone else. Which is why he’s worth taking a risk on a 20-year-old prospect with only nine games of experience above Double-A.

Tuesday night will be the biggest moment of his career and could wind up being a pivotal moment in the Red Sox season. If Boston is truly in a win now mode, Devers is their best chance at doing so. Let’s just hope he’s ready for the pressure that comes with that role.

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Despite the pressures that come with being a 20-year-old in the major leagues, Devers doesn’t actually have to play like a superstar to make a positive impact on the team. All he has to do is come close to league average in an attempt to shore up the crater that is third base. His defense may come under question, but everyone’s well aware that the glove isn’t up to par yet. There’s a more than a good chance he’ll be better than a .309 slugging percentage and 55 wRC+. At the end of the day, that’s all he has to concern himself with.