Michael Chavis’ future with the Boston Red Sox remains murky
Michael Chavis is getting an opportunity at the major league level while some of his teammates are sidelined by injury. While he’s performed admirably in his latest stint with the Boston Red Sox, it remains to be seen if he’s done enough to stick at this level.
Chavis led off Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels and delivered a pair of hits, including a double, to raise his average to .259 to go along with a .741 OPS. He now has three doubles plus a home run in six games since being recalled from Triple-A Worcester.
We can’t complain about a two-hit day but Chavis also demonstrated how his free-swinging approach can work against him.
Chavis led off the bottom of the first inning by falling behind in the count, taking a called first strike and fouling off the next pitch for strike two. He then chased a high fastball to strikeout on three pitches.
He stepped to the plate again in the third inning with two runners in scoring position and nobody out. Putting the ball in play would most likely lead to at least one run that the Red Sox desperately needed while trailing by three at the time. Chavis couldn’t get the job done. Every pitch he saw was well above the strike zone and he chased three of them for another strikeout.
Chavis is incapable of laying off the high fastball and opposing pitchers have exposed him for it. He’s already struck out 12 times without drawing a walk in 27 at-bats this season.
A lack of viable alternatives has led to the Red Sox inserting Chavis at the top of the order in recent games but someone who strikes out a ton and never walks isn’t an ideal leadoff hitter. That role will inevitably revert back to Kike Hernandez when he returns from a strained hamstring. Hernandez homered twice, including a grand slam, during a rehab start in Worcester on Sunday. He should be activated from the injured list this week, sending Chaivs back to the bench.
Jonathan Araúz is the most likely candidate to be optioned to Triple-A to make room for Hernandez but Christian Arroyo isn’t far behind in returning from a hand injury. Danny Santana’s arrival is also looming as he’s expected to join the roster in the near future before he can opt-out of his minor league deal.
The Red Sox are going to run out of roster spots at the team gets healthier and Chavis might be among those who gets squeezed. Alex Cora was noncommittal when asked about Chavis’ future with the club prior to Sunday’s game, according to MassLive’s Christopher Smith.
"“To win a World Series, it’s more than 26 guys. And you have to make moves based on your roster and the people that you have available,” said Cora. “So the way I put it is he’s leading off today. Tomorrow is an off day. We’ll see what the future brings. But the future for him is today. The future for this team is today. So we’ll leave it at that.”"
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement from the manager. He’s here today because injuries opened a spot for him. Chavis is an example of why depth matters. It’s the next man up mentality. When one player goes down, another steps up. Chavis is doing an admirable job while filling in but he’s still viewed as organizational depth.
Looking at the long-term future isn’t any brighter. Rookie Bobby Dalbec is establishing himself as the primary first baseman and top prospect Triston Casas is the future at the position. Chavis is a capable second baseman but the team seems to prefer Hernandez or Arroyo in the short-term with infield prospect Jeter Downs being groomed to take over as soon as next season.
His positive personality and enticing power potential make Chavis an easy player to root for but it’s hard to envision him cementing a permanent role on this team unless he fixes the holes in his swing and stops chasing those pitches above the zone that he can’t reach.
Chavis still provides valuable depth as a player who the Red Sox can call upon when needed. As Cora said, it takes more than 26 guys over the course of a long season. Chavis will get opportunities to contribute this season and perhaps beyond but it’s becoming clear that the team doesn’t view him as a core piece of their long-term future.