Red Sox: What if Boston never signed Rafael Devers?
The Boston Red Sox have one of the most interesting rookie tandems in 2017 with Andrew Benintendi playing left field and Rafael Devers now commanding 3rd base – how would this team be different without Devers?
It should go without saying that the Boston Red Sox struck gold when they signed amateur free agent Rafael Devers from the Dominican Republic back in August of 2013. Who could have anticipated that only four years later, he’d be one of the biggest stars on the major league team? Not me. Probably not most either. He’s just 20 years old. A few months shy of his 21st birthday. Does he strike a major deal to stay in Boston for 10+ years, much like Giancarlo Stanton did in Miami?
Probably not at the moment considering the amount of money the team still owes to Pablo Sandoval, who’s no longer playing in Boston, Rusney Castillo who’s playing in AAA Pawtucket, and to David Price, who might be done for this season and potentially all of 2018 with surgery looming.
How does the addition of Devers make the team better? Simply put, without Devers, the Red Sox would not have a four and a half game lead over their divisional rival Yankees right now.
Devers has given the Red Sox a much needed plug at third base and it’s a position that the team will no longer need to focus on for at least a decade. Where would the Sox be without him? That’s simple. Desperately attempting to remain afloat and actually contend. If they had opted to keep Sandoval, who has been a mistake since day 1, the team would be dealing with far greater issues. Sandoval was never the answer. Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero were stop gap players. Those two were like putting electric tape around a leaky pipe, just a temp fix.
Devers is the equivalent to getting new pipes all together. With this addition, the team has completely overhauled the position. There hasn’t been this much excitement at third base since Kevin Youkilis or Mike Lowell were each manning the hot corner. We could even throw in Adrian Beltre for good measure. The Sox have had some great third base options in the past, but none have had the ceiling that Devers currently has.
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What’s great about this addition? Devers has the opportunity to be better than all three of them. Can Devers hit 40+ home runs next year? It’s certainly possible considering his current slash line of .312/8/16/2 in 24 games.
I love hypothetical situations and this is definitely one to consider being a high reality next season. Let’s assume that Devers plays 154 games. Let’s also assume that Devers regresses next season to hit around .300. There is no question that the power numbers are there. Can he hit over 40 home runs next season? It’s certainly possible. Is it realistic? I think there will be some regression there as well. Will he hit at least 25 home runs next season? That’s almost a lock for 2018.
I’m going to say that given his current numbers through 2017, we’ll see Devers in the .300/30/98/10 region. Do those numbers look familiar? They mimic that of Nomar Garciaparra’s campaign back in 1997 when he was the Rookie of the Year for the Red Sox. He might surpass 30 homers in 2018 when he will only be 21 years old. Devers is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best third baseman in the game and one of the future faces of the sport.
Next: Red Sox: What if Boston never traded for Eduardo Nunez?
Stay tuned for the next “What If” article coming next week.