The Boston Red Sox and the curious case of Michael Chavis
Where does Michael Chavis fit in the plans for the Red Sox?
We’re just a few weeks away from the tentative arrival of pitchers and catchers to spring training facilities all over the league. As of the most recent reports, MLB believes that spring training will begin on-time and as scheduled. Based on last year’s dates that would put the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers just before Valentine’s Day. If all goes according to plan we could start seeing games played in just over a month.
With that said, teams are beginning to dip their toes into the free-agent waters as well as drawing up their gameplans for the upcoming season. For Boston, much of their roster is the same as it has been for the last few years with some modifications here and there. Alex Cora will be returning to a very familiar squad and won’t have to tinker too much as everyone knows their role within the team, well, almost everyone. One player that seems to be a man without an island is Michael Chavis, and I honestly have no idea where he’ll play in 2021.
Chavis was promoted in April of 2019 and burst onto the scene instantly making an impact. His fun-loving attitude and penchant for hitting baseballs into orbit instantly made him a fan favorite with Red Sox Nation. Though he was primarily a first/third baseman in his MiLB career, he was brought to the main roster to play second base. The team built a platoon at the position after Dustin Pedroia departed with a handful of players picking up after the former All-Star.
Even with splitting time with Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, Tzu-Wei Lin, Marco Hernandez, and Chris Owings, yup, you read that last name right, he got plenty of playing time. Things changed in 2020 though and in a bit of an odd way. Going into this season it was thought by most that Chavis had earned the starting second baseman job and with all of his comrades minus Lin departing, that thought process was realistic.
Newly appointed CBO Chaim Bloom would bring in Jose Peraza and later on Christian Arroyo while also promoting Jonathan Arauz, all to cover second. This would lead to Chavis being pushed out of the infield except for the few times where he would fill-in for Mitch Moreland and eventually Bobby Dalbec.
Then, Ron Roenicke started playing Chavis in the outfield, something that had been a bit of a rumor during the offseason ahead of 2020, but it was weird to actually see it.
The Ice Horse has been an infielder his entire career, learned second base on the fly, and got pretty damn good at the position, but you’re going to keep shuffling him around and not let him settle? This isn’t the first time the Red Sox tinkered with a top prospect only to have it backfire in their faces.
At one time, Blake Swihart was a top catching prospect in the league and one of Boston’s best up and comers. They would begin to move him around to multiple positions and as he was rarely getting reps as a third-string catcher, his quality suffered.
Swihart would go from being a top prospect in the system to someone that was a jack of all trades that mastered none. I worry that Chavis may be heading down this path as he’s already transitioned from his comfort zone once and now it seems that they may have him do it again.
All offseason long we’ve seen the reports that the Red Sox are targeting a second baseman off the free-agent market to be their everyday guy, once again pushing Chavis down the ladder. Both Arroyo and Arauz will be back in 2021 and have proven that they’re more than capable of covering second, so where does Chavis go from here?
It’s a tricky question to answer, and honestly, I don’t have one for ya. He went from working the corner bases-to second-to left field in the span of a year and a half. If I had to put money down on any outcome, it would be that Chavis isn’t long for the Red Sox.
There were some whispers that he may find himself involved in a trade during this past deadline rush but nothing came to fruition. With there being less and less room for him in the lineup, especially if Boston brings in a full-time second baseman, his services won’t be needed much longer. The Red Sox also signed Hunter Renfroe a few weeks ago which instantly rendered Chavis obsolete in the outfield.
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As much as I’m a Chavis guy and want to see him crushing baseballs at Fenway Park for his entire career, I just don’t know if that’s going to be the case. Promoting him in 2019 was out of necessity but every move the team has made regarding his future since then has felt like searching for the next solution. Turning him into a utility guy will only weaken his ability to have a specialty that can help this team. Some guys thrive in that role but others can disappear into the void, see Holt and Swihart respectively.
In my perfect world, he’d have a home back in the infield splitting reps with Dalbec at first and Arroyo at second. I don’t know if Bloom will achieve his goal of bringing in a second baseman with the much more pressing need of pitching support in the forefront. He most likely won’t be an everyday starter at either of those positions but could still get some solid playing time covering both. That side of the infield has become the bread and butter of his Major League career and I’d like to see him continue his development.
I want nothing but the best for Michael Chavis while he’s with the Red Sox and beyond. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him while with this organization and we’ve never heard a single negative about him as a player or person. His energetic and positive attitude is infectious and easy to get behind without much effort. When spring training comes around I hope Alex Cora has a plan for the young infielder, because if not, then we may not get to enjoy him in Boston for much longer.