Third Base – Internal
While Nunez should prove to be a significant upgrade at third base, trading for him alone would have felt underwhelming if it were the only move to improve the lineup. Luckily, that’s not the case, as the Red Sox doubled down at the position by promoting top prospect Rafael Devers.
The 20-year old arrived in the majors well ahead of schedule but has more than held his own in his first taste of big league action. Devers is 6-for-20 (.300) with a double and a pair of home runs through his first five games in Boston. A Red Sox lineup that ranks last in the league in homers was in dire need of a slugger and it appears that the power Devers possesses will translate to the majors with immediate dividends.
Trading for Nunez may have been an insurance policy in case Devers became overwhelmed at this level after being rushed through the minor league system. However, the Red Sox should be able to find ample playing time for both. Nunez is capable of playing other infield positions. He’s filled in for Dustin Pedroia at second base the last couple of games and could spell a slumping Xander Bogaerts at shortstop on occasion. He could also see time at DH if Hanley Ramirez continues to see more games at first base.
We could see a platoon at third base. Nunez is hitting .311 against left-handed pitching, albeit with a bit less power than he’s shown against right-handers. He could be used at third against lefties if the Red Sox choose not to expose Devers to left-handed pitching.
The combination of Nunez and Devers should be a massive upgrade over what the Red Sox have trotted out to third base this season. Nunez alone wouldn’t have moved the needle quite enough, but pairing him with the power bat of Devers pushes the grade up to a more promising level.
Third Base Grade – B+