The Boston Red Sox third base slot could deteriorate rapidly in 2017. Is Xander Bogaerts the solution? What about short?
The real problem that is starting to surface for the Boston Red Sox is not the third base dilemma, but the one that may surface at shortstop.
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First off is third where – if you believe certain media sources – Pablo Sandoval, last seen going 0-7, is now svelte and ready roll – maybe roll is a bad choice of words with the formerly rotund Panda?
If Sandoval shows up resembling a Russian Nesting Doll then the open season begins at third with several possible options. The employment should be that of Travis Shaw, but Shaw decided to skip hitting the last four months of the 2016 season. Brock Holt is always available and so is Aaron Hill if the Red Sox decide to add another fast fading player.
The hot corner is really the lukewarm or tepid corner in Boston. The one player that could certainly make a difference is Xander Bogaerts. Bogart’s was mentioned as a third base candidate since he was brought up in 2013 to actually play the position. The physical profile of Bogaerts does somewhat support such an eventual destination.
XB had a tale of two seasons in 2016. The first half was a .329 batting average that dipped to .253 in the second half. The power remained constant with 11 of Bogaerts 21 home runs coming in the second half of the season. Was Bogaerts worn down? Going for the fences? Did the pitchers discover a hole in his swing? Inquiring minds want to know.
What was noticeable is the defense. Bogaerts is simply average and that can be pointed out either via observation, metrics or both. This is a shortstop who will make the basic plays, but there is little pizazz to his defensive game. The Red Sox could do better. But, how?
The reality is there is little available on the very pricey baseball meat market that is called free agency. In fact, the reality is there is no immediate need since Bogaerts is steady and competent enough, but a future move may possibly loom. If the third base situation remains in flux then Bogaerts would certainly be a viable choice, but, again, a massive hole appears at short.
The Red Sox could sacrifice offense for defense as above average gloves that have below average bats are certainly a possibility. Boston has one in Deven Marrero, who is a defensive upgrade and will delight opposing pitchers with a potential sub .200 average.
A sudden surprise in 2016 was Mauricio Dubon who has the glove and the bat blossomed at Portland with a .339 average. Dubon will start at Pawtucket and continued improvement could mean a mid-season call to Boston if third starts to disintegrate.
Boston could always negotiate a trade with Detroit and bring back Jose Iglesias to take over at short. Just my slanted opinion, but from what I saw of Iglesias the kid is right there with Alex Gonzalez for his defense. Iglesias is also adept at doing the “little things” that make his .255 average a bit more valuable.
Obviously, this is down the road conjecture since Panda could hit .300 or Shaw can find the magic. The long run – a term in baseball that could mean a week or two years – points to Bogaerts being their third baseman of the future. Maybe the future is now? Maybe it will be in June?