Bleacher Report’s wild Red Sox free agency prediction has fans asking questions

Sep 29, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26) hits a double
Sep 29, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26) hits a double / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Bleacher Report is a hub for strange free agency and trade predictions, and Zachary D. Rymer's list of surprise landing spots for the top remaining MLB free agents is no exception. We welcome the chaos and unique perspective. But we're admittedly confused by this one.

Rymer has listed the Boston Red Sox as a "surprise destination" for former Oakland A's and Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman. And it would certainly be a surprise if the Sox signed him.

Boston's current everyday third baseman is, of course, Rafael Devers. He's the highest-paid player on the team, a fan favorite, and one of the best offensive third basemen in the league — before the 2023 season, Fox Sports ranked the 27-year-old as an "elite" third baseman and Chapman as a "really good" one.

Chapman's offense doesn't really even come close to Devers', which is one of the reasons why Rymer's prediction is so strange. Since 2019, Devers has led the league in extra-base hits and he sits behind just Freddie Freeman and Marcus Semien in total bases.

Bleacher Report has named the Red Sox as a surprise landing spot for Matt Chapman

Chapman is coming off a down year at the plate with the Jays. He batted .240, which is his exact career average, but his numbers were driven up by an incredible April at the plate, during which he batted .384 with a 1.152 OPS.

The 31-year-old's defense is far superior to Devers', though. And considering Boston's defense was atrocious last season — the second-worst in the league, in fact — adding Chapman to the roster may make some sense ... if the team is open to displacing Raffy at the hot corner? But that seems crazy.

Devers is regarded as something of an error-magnet. He logged -9 OAA last season, according to Baseball Savant, while Chapman registered +3. Chapman's arm strength also ranks in the 78th percentile among all qualified fielders, while Devers sits just below league average.

While signing Chapman may make sense from a defensive perspective, it wouldn't align with Boston's "not spending money" strategy. Justin Turner would've been a cheaper option as a third baseman or backup third baseman, but the Sox opted not to bring him back, despite interest from Turner and his representation.

Devers is likely not ready to transition into a full-time designated hitter, either. As a very good defender, Chapman would expect the opportunity to play every day, and he could absolutely get that elsewhere. This would just create far too much conflict on the Red Sox's roster and not give Chapman the opportunity he needs for a bounce-back season. Rymer proposes putting Chapman at third, Devers at first, and shifting Triston Casas to DH. For a team that's not expected to contend, it feels like unnecessary maneuvering.

For now, Boston is probably going to stick with Devers at third and figure out a solution defensively later down the road since he still has plenty of years left in the tank on both sides of the ball. Displacing a $300 million player is an egregious offense the front office can't afford to commit right now.

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