How will the Red Sox handle their infield come 2024?

BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: Rafael Devers #11 and Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox look on after scoring during the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 15, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: Rafael Devers #11 and Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox look on after scoring during the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 15, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

What the Boston Red Sox infield could look in the 2024 season

It has become well known over the last week of 2021 that the Boston Red Sox greatly improved their farm system. Jonathan Mayo from MLB Pipeline ranked them as the most improved farm system in baseball, crediting No. 4 overall draft selection in 2021, Marcelo Mayer, for the jump.

Being drafted out of high school as a shortstop, Mayer immediately jumped to No. 1 on Boston’s top prospect list. With his estimated time of arrival being 2024, the next couple of years will heavily impact the team Mayer may be playing with one day at Fenway. With many of Boston’s top prospects being infielders as well, I asked myself who we might see on the left and right of Mayer should he put on a Red Sox uniform in 2024. Here are my thoughts.

To start off, third base is a position that players can move into if necessary. While some players, like Boston’s Rafael Devers, are natural on the hot-corner, we have seen over the course of baseball history that many players become great third basemen despite being natural shortstops (A-Rod, Machado, Ripken Jr., and Chipper Jones are some examples).

Devers’ next contract will be a big one, you can count on it. Still being a couple years away (2024), his contract year raises some eyebrows as to how the Sox should handle Devers. As a left-handed hitting third basemen with power to all fields, he will get his pay day. Whether the Red Sox want him to wear their uniform or not is completely up to them.

Moving a shortstop to third in the minors can be an option with Jeter Downs. However, Downs may be a better option at second base. The Red Sox could take a risk with Blaze Jordan, their 9th ranked prospect in the farm, commanding third with his ETA being 2024.

Personally, I would not change a thing. Devers is a no-brainer to make your franchise player (if he isn’t already).

Moving over to shortstop, I am sure everyone reading can assume who I want the Red Sox to play come 2024. However, how they handle these next couple years is very crucial to their success in the later years of the 2020’s. While Mayer is still a 19-year-old kid, he shows a sweet left-handed swing with a frame that scouts die for when they scout high-schoolers.

With Mayer still developing, Xander Bogaerts is still the premier shortstop in Beantown. Bogaerts has an interesting window with the Red Sox. The final year of his contract is 2025, a year after Mayer’s ETA. While their windows clash together, third base can even be an option for Bogaerts down the line. However, with Devers holding third, it becomes a more complicated situation. While Bogaerts’ contract expires in 2025, it is a very moveable $20 million AAV. Bogaerts also has the option to opt-out of his deal after the 2022 season, which could lead to an earlier departure through free agency or a renegotiated deal that extends his tenure. Depending on how competitive Boston wants to be down the line can impact shortstop very heavily.

These two positions for the Red Sox are crucial towards their success. I believe playing their cards carefully will be the best option. The Sox will have to walk a tightrope between their current era of infielders and their next era. Bogaerts and Devers are both established All-Stars coming off Silver Slugger winning seasons. If the Red Sox development teams and coaches see a promising future with the infielders in the system, then there is not anything wrong with building a new core. However, if the Red Sox can win some free agents, and keep their core, they may be able to skip the painful couple years of getting the rookie players feet wet in the Major League waters and compete for another World Series.

Moving over to second base, since fan-favorite Dustin Pedroia retired from baseball, the position for the Red Sox has become a wildcard in the lineup. Christian Arroyo spent some time platooning at second in 2021, even eating some innings up in the playoffs after utility-man Marwin González, who often played second, was let go.

There are two options that stand out for the Sox right now that may be their best for 2024. While Downs has and can transition from an everyday shortstop to second, Nick Yorke can be a reliable option if his development goes well after having a great rookie 2021 season between Low-A and High-A. With the majority of second basemen in free agency being role players, I can’t see the Red Sox offering a deal to a player at that position that would extend beyond 2023.

Lastly, fist base in 2021 had a great look with Kyle Schwarber playing some innings at the position while also severing as the designated hitter. Bobby Dalbec also showed signs of a true everyday first baseman. I firmly believe by 2024, top prospect Triston Casas will have plenty of experience under his belt to be the everyday first baseman. Casas has a big frame like Dalbec, except he sports a left-handed swing that looks like it may chop a tree down with one cut. With this powerful swing comes some patience as well as Casas supported his power with a .395 OBP in Double-A Portland last year.

Overall, these players can all be in the infield for the Sox in 2024. Whether they end up in a different position or a different uniform is beyond my reach. Concluding my thoughts, I will give my final idea. If I was Chaim Bloom, I would want Devers at third, Mayer at short, Downs at second, and Casas at first.

Second base and first base can be pretty obvious. Casas is a top prospect waiting to break down the walls to start his Major League career, and Downs is on the brink of this as well, only Bogaerts is still under contract. With Bogaerts’ salary maxing at $20 million, this is a contract that can easily be moved come the end of his tenure with the Sox. With Mayer coming up behind Bogaerts, moving him would be a great move to get something back before he tests free agency (if the Sox don’t want compensation picks). Lastly, I want Devers at third. The prospects that may takeover third if Devers walks away are not players you want to bet your last dollar on. I am more comfortable betting on Mayer being better than Bogaerts, than I am any of the third baseman coming up being better than Devers.

These players coming up for the Sox give us fans all the more reason to be proud of our team. With 2022 hopefully ending with champagne showers, we can only hope the next generation of Red Sox can bring the same glory this group has brought us.

Next. Biggest "What Ifs" in Red Sox history. dark