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Inbox: What's the outlook for Devers?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers questions from fans
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

How many years do you see Rafael Devers lasting at third? Do you see him getting moved to first base as soon as 2020?
-- @nashinal_crisis

Devers is just starting his career. It's way too soon to talk about a position change. Let's see how he develops as a third baseman. Though he was definitely too error-prone last season, Devers has the skills necessary to be a good defender. I'm interested to see how he evolves as an overall player in 2019.

How many years do you see Rafael Devers lasting at third? Do you see him getting moved to first base as soon as 2020?
-- @nashinal_crisis

Devers is just starting his career. It's way too soon to talk about a position change. Let's see how he develops as a third baseman. Though he was definitely too error-prone last season, Devers has the skills necessary to be a good defender. I'm interested to see how he evolves as an overall player in 2019.

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Assuming the goal is to continue to be patient and optimistic about Devers' potential, is there any kind of offseason plan for Devers to work on his defensive consistency and on his pitch recognition/plate discipline so he can get that batting average up north of the .240's? Or is it just hoping for normal development?
-- Andy S., Birmingham, Ala.

Devers actually made strides in some of these areas you mention late in the 2018 season, but you might not have noticed because he wasn't playing as much. I thought Devers did well for the most part when called on during the postseason. He will spend all of next season at 22 years old, which means there is plenty of room for growth. I don't think enough people appreciated how swiftly he was promoted to the Major Leagues, and how losing some of that development time in the Minor Leagues hurt his performance while playing at the highest level.

Would the Red Sox consider trading Blake Swihart and maybe another piece or two for a decent, controllable bullpen arm?
-- @JosephQuatro412

Sure, I think the time has come for the Red Sox to make a decision on Swihart. Either the team views him as an important piece of the future or it doesn't, in which case it should trade him while he still has some value.

Are the Red Sox most likely to go with two catchers -- Christian Vazquez and Swihart?
-- @KenGriffeyJrNi

It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Sandy Leon back as the second catcher for a couple of reasons. One is that Leon is a superb defender who many pitchers enjoy working with -- especially Chris Sale. The second reason is that Swihart has more value in a trade.

Do the Sox re-sign Eovaldi?
-- @creddy4410

They would love to, but Nathan Eovaldi created a good market for himself by the way he pitched in October. There are going to be a lot of teams in on him, creating the chance that someone overpays him. The Red Sox will stay engaged with Eovaldi and his representatives throughout this process.

Biggest offseason addition for Sox?
-- @jamessheehan199

If the Red Sox are able to retain Eovaldi, I think he will represent their biggest addition. With the flexibility he has to be a flame-throwing starter in the regular season and a hybrid pitcher who can dominate in October, it would be greatly beneficial to bring him back. If they can't bring Eovaldi back, the biggest addition will probably be whichever reliever they can get in a trade or free agency.

Can the Sox afford to keep Joe Kelly, and are they interested in him as a setup man like he was in October?
-- Rich O., Falls Church, Va.

The Red Sox definitely have interest in keeping Kelly, but his market is a little tricky. Do you go more on his dominant performance in the playoffs, which is the last thing in your memory bank, or the inconsistency he has been prone to the last few seasons? It's too early to know if they can afford him, because we don't yet know what his price is going to be.

Any chance of keeping Ian Kinsler around just in case Pedroia is unable to function at his previous level?
-- Jimmy, Lincoln, Neb.

Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez should give the Red Sox the injury protection they need in the event Dustin Pedroia is unable to perform at his expected level or stay on the field. Kinsler didn't play all that well for Boston, so I don't see a lot of interest from the club in bringing him back.

Who do you think the Sox want to keep over the next few seasons? Betts, Martinez, Bogaerts, Sale or JBJ? Who do you think they will end up keeping?
-- ‏ @Neely82010

When you are talking about players who just helped you win a World Series, you want to keep all of them. But it's never that simple. The Red Sox still have two more years with Mookie Betts, but I'm sure he is the top priority. I wouldn't worry about J.D. Martinez just yet. There is no guarantee that he will exercise his opt-out clause at the end of the season. Boston will have to evaluate that one as it goes. After Betts, Sale is the next biggest priority, assuming the Red Sox have no concerns about his long-term health. If they are unsuccessful in extending Betts and/or Sale, it would increase their chances of keeping Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Are we ready to depart from Hembree?
-- @HarrisTweeter21

The Red Sox have Heath Hembree controllable at just over $1 million for 2019, and that's a bargain for someone who is so durable. He is never going to be a star, but he is a good piece to have in a bullpen over the course of a long season. Also, in the four times Hembree pitched in the postseason, he didn't allow a run.

Alex Cora mentioned Pedroia hitting leadoff if he returns. Though he earned the right to win the spot, I just don't see him being the catalyst (MVP) that Betts is. Sad to see [Pedroia] drop in the lineup, but where is the best spot for him to hit in this star lineup?
-- Jonathan L., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Cora was talking specifically about Opening Day when he mentioned Pedroia batting first. He was saying that would be his reward for making it back. Cora added that Betts would lead off in every game for the rest of the season. There's no question they love Mookie hitting first.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

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