Red Sox must give Sam Travis his Chance

KANSAS CITY, MO -JUNE 20: Sam Travis
KANSAS CITY, MO -JUNE 20: Sam Travis /

The Red Sox are in the market for a first baseman. Do they have an in-house solution in Sam Travis?

No scout, executive, general manager or ownership group goes into the June draft with the hope that the player they have their eye on gets taken before their pick. Even fewer baseball personnel hope to see the player drafted, and not pan out how they planned.

And then of course, there are the burnouts. The burnouts are the players whom are highly regarded prospects and just don’t get their chance at the Major League level.

Once the player is drafted and signed, the team now has control over him for the next six seasons.

For Sam Travis, the baseball clock is ticking. Travis, drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2014 draft, has until the end of the 2019 season to make his mark in Fenway Park.

At 24 years old, Travis made his MLB debut last season. He appeared in 33 games and slashed .263/.325/.342. Scouts have referred to Travis as a right-handed Paul Goldschmidt as early as 2016.

While he does exhibit power-more so in the form of doubles than home runs-Travis’ comparison to Goldschmidt can attributed to his on-base skills. Through four minor league seasons between Single-A and Triple-A, the Chicago native has accrued a .360 on base percentage.

An advanced knowledge of the strike zone isn’t the only reason for this flattering parity. Travis’ glove work at the position only increases his value. In 140 innings in the field, after 119 chances, Travis made only one error, good enough for a .992 fielding percentage.

Consistency is key as Travis has never made more than eight errors in the field at any level-with those eight coming in his first professional season between Greeneville and Lowell.

The Red Sox have been linked to free agent DH/first basemen such as Eric Hosmer, Logan Morrison and Carlos Santana in recent days. The enticing thing about the latter three is they are proven, established veterans who can help lead a team.

The disenchanting attribute about these three is they are proven, established veterans who can help lead a team. Those qualities amount for a sizable pay-day for any of them, especially Hosmer who is looking at upwards of a $100 million deal.

With the departure of Mitch Moreland, the Red Sox are looking to replace his 22 home runs, 34 doubles and 79 RBI’s. Although they are surely going to exceed the $197 million luxury tax threshold, they should be looking for an economical, but productive solution at first base.

They also should be looking for someone to take at-bats away from Hanley Ramirez who will be 34 years of age when the 2018 season begins.

Many are unaware that Ramirez carries a vesting option in his contract based on late appearances between 2017 and 2018. If Ramirez acts as a full-time player in 2018 he will all but surely exceed the aforementioned threshold of plate appearances thus vesting the option which will cost the Red Sox over $20 million in 2019 for a depleting 35 year-old designate hitter with more than his fair share of health concerns.

In Travis, the Red Sox have a resource with untapped potential. 33 games at the big league level is not nearly a big enough sample size for us to fully understand Travis’ skill set. Travis has also had an impressive run of Spring Trainings with the Sox batting over .300 in each of the last three springs including a stellar .469 in 2016.

Despite these feats, Travis has yet to make the club out of Spring training. He looks to be a long shot with catcher Blake Swihart, infielder Deven Marrero and left-hander Brian Johnson out of minor league options, the three of them will surely take up roster spots.

Boston could have a change of heart and decide to trade one of those three this off season, which would increase Travis’ chances of making the club out of Spring Training.

All in all the Red Sox have a decision to make. Spend big for a free agent veteran, or let the kid show what he’s got. We will see in February as Travis will come in with something to prove