Red Sox should position Michael Chavis as their next first baseman

BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: Michael Chavis #23 of the Boston Red Sox tips his cap after hitting a walk off RBI single against the Colorado Rockies in the tenth inning at Fenway Park on May 15, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: Michael Chavis #23 of the Boston Red Sox tips his cap after hitting a walk off RBI single against the Colorado Rockies in the tenth inning at Fenway Park on May 15, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox will be without a first baseman once free agency hits but they have an already proven asset in Michael Chavis to fill the void.

Free agency is right around the corner and as the Red Sox head into this winter they have plenty of fires to put out. There’s the possibility that J.D. Martinez can opt-out and leave. The will they/won’t they with trade rumors around Mookie Betts. Then there are a handful of free agents that will leave Boston’s lineup looking like Swiss cheese. Most importantly, first base will be wide open and Boston needs to fill it quickly. Enter, Michael Chavis.

Boston’s powerhouse rookie came onto the scene thanks to an early-season call-up from Pawtucket. He didn’t waste any time in making a name for himself as almost instantly he became a key player in the Red Sox offense. Seriously, the kid was smacking moon-bombs as if his life depended on it. For a good part of the season, every at-bat that Chavis had was must-see television.

We were introduced to the Ice Horse as a substitute at second base after Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt went down with injuries. It was a position he’s never played but early on in spring training Alex Cora began giving him reps to get him ready for the majors. Though he would get shots at his more natural spots of first and third base while others were on rest days, second was his early home in 2019.

The rookie would finish his year on the IL and with a failed rehab stint in the minors due to shoulder and oblique injuries. His final tally on the season brought a .254/.322/.444/.766 slash line with 18 homers and 58 RBI.

There was some early Rookie of the Year chatter surrounding his name only to have a cold spell and injuries put that to a halt. Chief Chavis would be named the AL Rookie of the Month for June thanks to his hot bat during the beginning of his Major League career.

Going into this offseason I had it made up in my mind that Chavis would be taking over at second base with nothing but question marks surrounding Pedroia and Holt heading for the open market.

The Red Sox have Marco Hernandez who also got plenty of time at second base this year and can easily assume the everyday role if called upon. Boston’s most pressing matter is the fact that they have absolutely nobody to play first base.

Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce are both free agents when the calendar flips to the 2020 season leaving a massive gap not only offensively but defensively for the Red Sox. Well, more so Moreland than Pearce since the World Series MVP was a complete non-factor this season.

Mitchy Two-Bags was reliable at first and has a clutch gene most would be jealous of. Chavis can be the one to counter the loss of Moreland to a degree as he’s still young to the big league game.

Though we got used to Chavis at second base he actually played more games at first as he finished with 49 to only 45 at second. His fielding wasn’t awful either considering the situations he faced. He finished with four errors at each position having them mostly come by the way of fielding mistakes. Chavis’ defense will only get better with more reps at a consistent position as opposed to bouncing around.

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We also heard from the Red Sox that they may test Chavis in the outfield while he’s in Puerto Rico playing in the Winter League. I think this is a massive mistake on their behalf and should be avoided at all costs. Clearly this is a move to make him more versatile like a Holt, but it could cause him to become weaker in his strongest roles. Boston tried this with Blake Swihart recently and it failed miserably.

Swihart was the top catching prospect in the system and instead of focusing on that strength they tried to turn him into a utility guy and he suffered from doing so. He was traded to Arizona this past winter where he was soon released after. On the other hand, Betts was a second baseman throughout his farm system days but was converted to an outfielder and is now one of the best right fielders in the game.

I can see the merit in making the Ice Horse as versatile as possible so Cora and plug and play him wherever he needs to, but in the end, it doesn’t feel worth it. Just because it worked with Betts doesn’t mean it will with Chavis and I don’t like the gamble on believing it can.

Not to say that I don’t think Michael is capable of learning a new position as we’ve already seen he can, I would just rather he play where he is the biggest asset to the team.

Boston doesn’t need more utility players as they still have Sam Travis on the roster who can play infield as well as outfield and did so in 2019. If they want a top utility man so bad why don’t they go and pay Holt? That’s what everybody wants and it would be the best solution for the team. The Red Sox can sign Holt to a friendly deal and focus on Chavis becoming the future of first base.

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The Red Sox are in for a long and cold winter as they feel like a ship lost at sea right now. Coming off of a World Series win should have things going in the right direction but instead the organization as adrift. One guiding light that can be used is Michael Chavis and having him at first base is the best way to find their way home.