The Boston Red Sox need bullpen help to get them to the postseason but don’t have many impact prospects to move. How about trading Michael Chavis instead?
When Boston Red Sox fans think about Michael Chavis, an image of him posing at the plate after smashing a pitch 450 feet to center field probably comes to mind. Either that or him swinging through another fastball up in the zone for the hundredth time.
There is little in-between when it comes to Chavis.
Now, when Red Sox fans think about the bullpen, well I’d say the picture that comes to mind is pretty consistent across the board. One of frustration, slouched shoulders, or even this.
With reports that the Red Sox are the ‘most invested’ in the pursuit of New York Mets reliever Edwin Diaz, per ESPN’s Buster Olney, I suggest they do not hesitate to send Chavis packing in a trade for him at this year’s July 31 trade deadline.
The Red Sox have very little depth in the Minor Leagues, with one of the worst-ranked farm systems in baseball. Coming into the season, their only MLB.com Top-100 prospect was none other than Chavis. If they are to add a closer, they need to trade something of value, there is no way around that.
Aside from being the best reliever in baseball last season, finishing 8th in the American League Cy Young award race, Diaz is also very cheap for this season, earning just $607K which would be pro-rated to approximately $250K.
Since Chavis has just started the service time clock this season, he is earning just $555K for the year as a Major League minimum player. Trading the MLB contract makes Diaz even cheaper for the Red Sox, virtually eliminating his monetary cost. This allows them slightly more flexibility if they decided to make another move as well. In that case, I would suggest pursuing a right-handed bench piece or a fourth outfielder, or both.
Right now is when Chavis will have the most value, he is in the midst of a potential Rookie of the Year campaign (now unlikely due to the emergence of Yordan Alvarez, but alas). He has five-and-a-half years of control left and addresses a need for the Mets: offense. The Mets have scored the ninth most runs in the National League this season, something they will need to improve should they want to contend next year. Hint: they do.
Chavis is an exciting player who can impact a franchise for many years to come, but there are obvious holes in his game at this time. At the Major League level, he has shown a consistent inability to hit high fastballs, which have led him to a 33.1 percent strikeout rate through 93 games.
With the activation of Mitch Moreland, having Chavis around is redundant. Chavis, or the ‘Ice Horse’, is hitting at a slash line of .260/.331/.453 this season with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs. Moreland is hitting .228/.317/.531 with 13 home runs and 33 RBIs.
More from BoSox Injection
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Chavis has stayed fairly healthy and has twice as many at-bats. There are concerns to be had about Moreland’s health, that is a fair argument for keeping Chavis I must concede.
If Moreland hit at the same rate throughout the season but had as many plate appearances as Chavis he would have 24 home runs and nearly 67 RBIs.
Moreland makes more contact, with a 21.5 percent strikeout rate this season, and has a higher slugging percentage. He is also a Gold Glove defender and is a left-handed first baseman which is better for pick-off attempts.
The biggest discrepancy in their performances thus far is their play versus left-handed pitching. Neither do particularly well against lefties, but Chavis is statistically better than Moreland. They can even look for a bat to hit lefties in the same deal if they want to, with Todd Frazier on the Mets, who has hit them at a .304/.382/.557 clip this season.
Moving Chavis for an arm also frees up a spot for Marco Hernandez to come back up and rake off of the bench. It would potentially give Boston the chance to stop carrying 13 pitchers and have a four-man bench for once. Having the extra bench guy gives Alex Cora more flexibility when it comes to resting players and late-game pinch-hitting options.
Moreland is also only in Boston for the remainder of this season, which would potentially allow for Boston to go out and sign a guy like Jose Abreu in free agency this off-season, as Jake Devereaux and Keaton Oakes DeRocher suggested on the “Over the Monster” podcast Monday. Having Chavis around may dissuade Abreu or others from coming to Boston. The Red Sox need to bridge the gap until Triston Casas is ready for prime time, and moving Chavis is step one in my opinion.
What could be done to change this image of the bullpen? Improve it. Go out and acquire an impact arm who can instill some confidence for the rest of the team. Want starters to perform better? Make the bullpen behind them better so they can relax. Having to always be perfect in order to get a win is taxing for starters, so add an arm and let them focus on throwing up zeros. It’s easier to do so if they know the bullpen can do it every once in a while too.