The Boston Red Sox finalized a massive trade near the end of the 2023 calendar year, sending former franchise centerpiece and World Series champion Chris Sale to the Atlanta Braves.
In return for Sale, the Red Sox received young infielder Vaughn Grissom, who is a former top prospect but didn't quite make as much of an impact in 2023 as he did in 2022.
Given Grissom’s limited experience in the majors – 64 games over two seasons – and demotion to Triple-A for most of 2023, it’s fair for Red Sox fans to have some concerns or doubts about this massive trade. After all, Sale was Boston’s top starter when healthy and boasts the ability to miss bats with his high velocity and impressive slider.
Rest assured, however, that reasons do exist for Boston baseball fans to rally behind this move. Braves television analyst Nick Green told Rob Bradford on the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast that Red Sox Nation should be excited about landing Grissom.
“I love Vaughn. Red Sox fans are going to love him,” Green said. “This kid can hit."
Red Sox fans are going to love Vaughn Grissom, says Braves analyst
Grissom has boasted impressive results at the plate through his limited big-league action. The 23-year-old owns a .287/.339/.407 slash line with a 5.5% walk rate, 20.8% strikeout rate, 107 wRC+, and .348 BABIP. He also slugged .501 at the Triple-A level last year.
Grissom does have some flaws in the field, though, where he’s played 368 innings at second base and 168 innings at shortstop. He owns a career .955 fielding percentage as well as negative defensive wins above replacement and a negative ultimate zone rating. Then again, inconsistent playing time likely contributed to his defensive struggles, which means that he could enjoy more stability if the Red Sox make him their everyday second baseman.
“I think his best spots second base,” Green said. “He’s got a little bit of work to do at second but that’s probably his best position. […] If he plays 162 at second base, then I think you’re going to see a completely different Vaughn Grissom defensively the following year.”
Green had high praise for Grissom’s work ethic and behavior, too, explaining, “He’s a great kid, hard worker, and a really good player.”
At the end of the day, it stings to lose Sale, who recorded the final out of the 2018 World Series and has been a fan-favorite for most of his time in Boston, even when injured. However, fans should feel optimistic after hearing Grissom draw praise from a well-regarded baseball analyst who watched him in Atlanta.
Have the Red Sox finally found their next franchise second baseman, filling a major void left by Dustin Pedroia’s departure last decade? It’s too early to tell, but there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful.
Fans’ first opportunity to watch Grissom compete as a member of the Red Sox will come when position players report to Spring Training in mid-February. And we can't wait.