Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis finds a new home in left field
Michael Chavis was a shot in the arm for a fledgling Red Sox team in April of 2019. The then-rookie wasn’t afraid of anything and quickly became an offensive juggernaut. Unfortunately, an injury and his glaring weakness for the high heat would put a damper on the second half of his debut, but he still did enough to earn his spot for 2020.
Chavis was predominantly positioned at the infield corners his entire career, but a rash of injuries caused him to be slotted a second, a brand new position. He adapted to the change incredibly well and became a viable option for Alex Cora during 2019. The Ice Horse would also begin this season at second with his only competition coming from Jose Peraza.
Things have gotten a bit weird this year though and now Chavis is finding himself getting the most playing time in the outfield. The Red Sox have installed Rule 5 phenom Jonathan Arauz and recently acquired Christian Arroyo at second, leaving Chavis as the odd-man-out. Many would figure that he’d platoon with recent call-up Bobby Dalbec at first, but it seems as if he’s not quite fitting in there either.
Though he’s still getting some looks at first, Dalbec has the much hotter bat and is getting the lion’s share of the playing time there. So what are the Red Sox to do with their once shiniest toy? You put him in the area where you’re the weakest of course! This season was lost long ago so now it’s all about seeing what we’ve got for 2021. Chavis will be on the team without a doubt, but it’s a matter of seeing where he fits into the mix.
Andrew Benintendi was recently shut down for the rest of the year and Kevin Pillar was dealt to the Rockies. Peraza was getting some time in the outfield as he’s played there before but even he’s gone now as he was optioned the other day. So with plenty of gaps and not many bodies to fill them, Big Mike is now hanging out in left field.
We heard some whispers that Cora was going to have him work on playing in the outfield during the offseason in order to make him a more versatile player. Once again, something that the Red Sox love to do is take a guy that’s a specialist and make him a utility player. Cough, Blake Swihart, Cough. However, since we’ve already seen how well Chavis can adapt on the fly with his move to second, I wasn’t as shocked by the idea.
Ron Roenicke has followed in the idea laid out by Cora this past winter and has been using him pretty frequently in the outfield. The Red Sox skipper was asked about the move for the infielder earlier in the week and he was pretty honest, it’s about playing time.
“I liked what I saw two days ago and we’re still trying to get the bat in the lineup,” Roenicke said. “(We’ll do it) as much as we can,” he added. “I want to be fair — you can’t do it to everybody — but I want to be fair to the guys we think it’s important to get a better look at. We need to get him out there.”
Boston has a big free agent in Jackie Bradley Jr. this winter and the possible exit of J.D. Martinez as well. This will leave a massive gap in centerfield, a possible second outfield slot, and the DH role needing to be filled. As much as I think Chavis is a solid infielder, it’s clear Dalbec isn’t letting go of first, and it’s a matter of time before Jeter Downs claims his rightful spot at second.
So the Red Sox need to find a position that will allow his big bat to remain in the lineup and get him on the field every night, the outfield it is. He’s shown some promise in his new role with the team and considering he is going to be one of the building blocks going forward, getting him into the lineup at any cost should be a priority.
Chavis hasn’t been phased by the move as he sees it just as Roenicke does, it’s a chance to play every day. Going down the road he may have an issue as both Triston Casas, CJ Chatham, and Jarren Duran are chomping at the bit to get called up, but by then we may see Chavis pitching. Who the hell knows with this team considering how they manage a pitching staff. As long as he’s on the field, the Ice Horse doesn’t care where his manager has him.
“I’m more than happy to play any position. Like I said, my favorite position on the field is when I’m in the batter’s box,” Chavis said. “So I enjoy learning the new positions and I know it can make me valuable. Hopefully, moving forward, it’s definitely something people value in me, that I’m able to play different positions.”
The young star has a great mindset and work ethic that moving him around the diamond isn’t a shock to his system. For some, being taken from their traditional position could wreck their psyche, but he just smiles and plows forward. The Red Sox have a great core of young guys who just want to play the game each and every night with their friends, and Chavis is at the front of that line.
Michael Chavis is a huge asset to whoever is sitting in the Manager’s office and should be treated as such. He has an eagerness to learn as much as possible and will work as hard as necessary to achieve the goal ahead of him. He’s got great power in his bat as we’ve seen by the numerous balls he’s hit to the moon. Having him in the lineup each night is better than the alternative if a trip to the outfield gets that accomplished, then so be it.