Red Sox potential shortstop replacements for injured Xander Bogaerts

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 08: Manger Alex Cora checks on Xander Bogaerts
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 08: Manger Alex Cora checks on Xander Bogaerts /

The Boston Red Sox may need to prepare themselves to be without Xander Bogaerts, who exited with an ankle injury on Sunday. Who fills in at shortstop?

Lost in the excitement of Sunday’s thrilling comeback victory was an early exit by Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Bogaerts suffered an ankle injury sliding into the dugout while chasing a ball that got away from him. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary with the slide itself, although Bogaerts could have jammed his ankle on the landing once his feet were out the camera’s view. He noticeably limped around the field before being helped into the clubhouse.

The severity of the injury remains unclear. Bogaerts plans to undergo treatment on Monday to determine if a stint on the disabled list is necessary. It’s encouraging that the team didn’t immediately jump to placing him on the DL. Perhaps it wasn’t as bad as it looked.

We should expect the Red Sox to be without their star shortstop when they welcome the New York Yankees to town for a three-game series beginning on Tuesday. Beyond that would be speculation at this point. Boston may not want to enter an important series with their archrival shorthanded, so we can’t rule out Bogaerts being sent to the DL even if he won’t actually need the full 10 days to recover.

That leaves us to predict how the Red Sox will go about replacing Bogaerts. There’s little chance of finding a suitable option to replace his offensive production in the lineup. Bogaerts was off to a blistering start, leading the team with a .368 average, 1.111 OPS, two home runs and nine RBI. He enters the day leading the majors with seven doubles and he is second with nine extra-base hits.

Boston doesn’t have a bat they can bring off the bench to produce numbers anywhere near that stratosphere. However, they do have some options as far as handling the defensive duties at shortstop.

Brock Holt filled in after Bogaerts was removed in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game. If Bogaerts were only going to miss a few games then the Brock Star would be a fine replacement. The versatile infielder is capable of covering almost any position but his experience at shortstop is limited to 31 games and 22 starts. He also rates below-average with -16 Rdrs/yr at the position. The same defensive metrics haven’t been kind to Bogaerts either, so the drop off to Holt wouldn’t be significant. There are still better long-term alternatives.

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Eduardo Nunez has more experience at shortstop, with his 270 appearances totaling more than he’s played at any other position. He’s no defensive whiz either, although he doesn’t rate any worse at short than he does at second base where he’s currently filling in. Holt is better at second base. Putting him there and pushing Nunez over to short may serve the infield better than simply plugging Holt in for Bogaerts.

An early injury to a vital cog in the infield leaves us to second-guess the decision to trade Deven Marrero away essentially for nothing. Boston could certainly use his glove to help stabilize the infield if Bogaerts misses time.

The depth of the Red Sox infield will be tested if Bogaerts lands on the DL. With Marrero shipped out of town and Marco Hernandez on the 60-day DL, look for Tzu-Wei Lin to get called up to give Boston an extra infielder on the bench.

Next: Red Sox vs Yankees series preview

The decision to skip a trip to the DL after he was struck on the hand by a pitch last July derailed a promising season for Bogaerts. Expect the team to ere on the side of caution this time. If there’s any reason to believe the ankle could be a lingering issue then Bogaerts needs to sit out to allow it to properly heal.