The Boston Red Sox can fill their opening at first base by moving Rafael Devers across the diamond where his defense would be less of a liability.
While other outside candidates, including premium free agents like Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana, as well Jose Abreu, Logan Morrison, and even Yonder Alonso and Adam Lind have been tossed out, the Sox can save money and prospects by simply shifting Devers to first base.
Clearly, Devers had a shaky year at the hot corner with 14 errors in just 56 games with a .906 fielding percentage, well below the league average of .956 and 49th among all qualified third basemen on the Player Rater.
Why not take the rook off the firing line at third and take some defensive pressure off to allow him to focus on his hitting potential?
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If he has the infield skills to almost handle the shooting gallery at third, he has the potential to be an above average fielder at first.
Yes, Devers throws right-handed, but so does Hanley Ramirez, who filled in adequately at the bag, but is on the downside of his career at bat; his career BA is .291, but he has slipped into the .250 zone and, unless he has a miraculous recovery of his shoulder, he may repeat his 2017 WAR: -0.3.
The other two Boston roster first basemen are Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis.
Since president of baseball operations Dave Dombroski is openly searching for a new first baseman, Moreland is patently not acceptable to continue at that position in 2018. He’s a free agent and unlikely to return unless the team fails to find a suitable upgrade.
Travis, who was once promoted to become “The Next,” but unable to translate his power from minors to majors, has become trade bait.
Relieving the mental pressure of playing third and moving to less stressful slot at first will allow Devers to realize his offensive potential. Based on his partial year stats, Baseball Reference projects him to run this full-season stat line: .284, 28 home runs, 84 RBI and 95 Runs.
If the Sox see Devers as a long-term cog in the batting order in one of the power slots [3, 4, 5], it is time to make the move now: commit to Devers as the solution at first base and turn to searching for a power hitting third baseman.