Red Sox: The improbable case for trading Rafael Devers
The Red Sox trading Rafael Devers wouldn’t be the worst idea
24-year-old Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers is quickly becoming one of the faces of the franchise, second only to the longest tenured player on the team, shortstop Xander Bogaerts. The third baseman is also one of the few consistent bright spots left on the team after the start of the rebuild/retool, that saw many players from the 2018 World Series Champion team leave in some form. Most notably of course, former MVP Mookie Betts.
The young, growing star in Devers is one of few Red Sox players that are just about no doubt safe from being shipped off somewhere else like their aforementioned teammates. Looking at his stats, there isn’t much to argue that claim. The third baseman has a career .279 AVG along with a .498 SLG% and an .830 OPS. Those three stats right there are more than solid.
Although, there is one glaring issue if you look at the other side of the ball. Devers’ career fielding percentage is an abysmal .926. In 2019, he ranked 4th in most games played at the position but ranked 112th in fielding percentage among qualified players according to baseball-reference.com. To keep adding insult to injury, in that same season he ranked 169th in defensive runs saved while newcomer Marwin Gonzalez ranked 15th among eligible third baseman.
Playing the position Devers does, that isn’t what you want to see. They don’t call third base the “hot corner” for nothing. Most players like him, great at hitting and less than good at fielding, are more used in a Designated Hitter spot. They maybe play the field every few games. But with J.D. Martinez wanting to play for a long time and embracing more of a DH role, I don’t see Devers moving towards that anytime soon.
Which begs the question, do the Red Sox ship him out? The odds are honestly probably less than 1%, but that means there is still a chance. We all know that the lineup is just about the only consistent bright spot for the team right now. While it might take a hit if Devers gets traded, there are areas of the team that could be helped by offering him up to other teams. Pitching would be where I would start. Chris Sale’s health is questionable as of late, Eduardo Rodriguez is still finding his strengths, and Nathan Eovaldi’s ERA is consistently too high.
It’s not like the team doesn’t have guys that could step in should this situation ever come to be. Bobby Dalbec, who seemed to fit right in throughout his 23 appearances last season, could move from one corner of the infield to the other. Top prospects, Jeter Downs and Triston Casas could also make the move over to third. So there wouldn’t be a hole in the infield for long.
Plenty of teams throughout the league would be gnawing at the bit to get Devers on their team. Hopefully for their sake, whatever team(s) would be most interested should be better than average at defense.
There is one team out there that could entertain an offer from the Red Sox or vice versa. It’s one that was rumored to be in on Andrew Benintendi before he was dealt to the Kansas City Royals.
Miami Marlins are a potential trade partner for the Red Sox
I know you might be thinking, “What do the Marlins have to offer?” More than meets the eye is the answer. The Marlins have seemed to be in a rebuild since their last pennant in ’03, but they are trending up with their first Wild Card berth since that same year this past season. Five top 100 prospects, according to MLB.com, puts them in a good spot to keep working toward another pennant.
Their top prospect, right-handed pitcher Sixto Sanchez (No. 15 MLB.com), could be a target in a Devers trade that could help the Red Sox right away. The 6-foot, 22-year-old hurler’s idol growing up in the Dominican Republic was none other than Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez. So I’m sure that Sixto wouldn’t mind being shipped up to Boston. Red Sox fans shouldn’t mind having him either.
Throughout five seasons in the minors, Sanchez compiled a 23-18 record with a 2.93 ERA, 294 K’s and a 1.02 WHIP in 335.1 IP. Even during his short seven-game stint this past season he showed a glimpse of a top of the rotation type pitcher. In 39.0 IP, the young right-hander struck out 33 batters and ended with a 3.46 ERA, which isn’t bad by any means for his first few games.
This trade wouldn’t be a straight up deal, there is probably a .0000001% chance either team would take a straight up deal. Now say this deal were to take place this year, the trade could look a little something like this.
Marlins get: 3B Rafael Devers, INF Hudson Potts (No. 18 Red Sox Prospect), and LHP Chris Murphy (No. 19 Red Sox Prospect) and/or a PTBNL.
Red Sox get: RHP Sixto Sanchez, 1B/DH Jesus Aguilar, OF Tevin Mitchell (No. 48 Marlins Prospect) and/or cash considerations.
Is that a little much for the Red Sox to give up? Maybe. But it benefits both teams, let me explain.
First, how it benefits the Marlins. The obvious reason is they get a very good young bat in Devers, probably for years to come. But not so obvious is the fact they would keep their farm system still pretty solid. Even with giving up their No. 1 prospect in Sanchez and another top 50 in Mitchell. Potts would give them a nice infield piece in a pitcher heavy system. Fourteen of their top 30 prospects (besides Sanchez), are pitchers. With that being said, I see the PTBNL to be more to the Marlins liking than getting Murphy, since they wouldn’t be hurting for guys to throw on the mound in the near future. Also a PTBNL would give the Marlins a chance to take time to really see what position they need to fill.
As a team in 2019, the Marlins hit below the league average (.241).Insert Devers and his career .279 AVG into that lineup and it instantly gets better. Defensively, Miami wouldn’t take too much of a hit as the team’s fielding percentage was right at the league average in 2019 (.984). Devers, being as bad of a fielder as he is, might drop it a tad but not enough to make them regret their decision in any way.
Now, as for the Red Sox, it benefits them just as much. As mentioned earlier, Sanchez struck out 33 batters in 39 IP this past season in his seven appearances. The Red Sox could really use a guy on the mound who can get strikeouts consistently. Especially to go along with Chris Sale, who is a strikeout master.
The other main piece in the trade, Aguilar, would fill in nicely for the team as a power bat (35 HRs in 2018) that could help keep the offense afloat. The 30-year-old can also step in at first base and help the defensive struggles (career .992 fielding % at 1B). From a financial standpoint, they wouldn’t be locked down with him forever as Aguilar is due to be FA in 2023.
The possible third piece that would be coming to Boston, as it would be for the Marlins, is a toss-up. On one hand, you’ve got a top 50 prospect in Miami’s deep farm system in Mitchell. The 23-year-old has only had one season of minor league ball (.238 AVG, .400 OBP in 80 games). He would probably move into a higher ranking in the Red Sox not-so-deep farm system. Which isn’t a bad thing, it should make the trade more enticing for Boston. Adding to their prospect pipeline should be second priority to adding pitching help. More so because their top outfield prospects (Jarren Duran, Gilberto Jimenez), are due to debut anytime now.
But when it comes to the other option, cash considerations, the Red Sox could really use that too. Whether it be to lock up Sanchez for a few years or if Bogaerts decides to opt out they could use the extra money to keep him. No matter what they use it for every team likes money.
Would this trade happen for the Red Sox?
To be completely honest, this trade is about as far from happening as society is to finding the existence of Santa Claus. The Marlins won’t part with their No. 1 prospect, especially after having made the playoffs in the shortened season last year. On the other side of things, no matter how bad Devers is at defense, the Red Sox don’t have any plans to trade a young star like him. At least not right now.
With all that being said, I will say this. Derek Jeter is the CEO of the Marlins and oversees the day-to-day operations of the team. While I’m sure he has fallen in love with Sanchez, he was a part of the team when they traded star players Giancarlo Stanton and JT Realmuto within his first two seasons of holding that position. So I wouldn’t put it past him to deal Sanchez. Even if he offered the Red Sox this deal, I don’t see Boston taking it. Although I do think they should really consider it.