The Red Sox may have the best record in the American League East, but they also have the worst hot-corner situation in baseball. Boston's third basemen have combined for a .600 OPS, the worst mark in MLB, and have committed 18 errors, the second-highest total.
After sending Travis Shaw to Milwaukee as part of an ill-fated deal for Tyler Thornburg in December, the Red Sox have started seven players at third base and still are looking for a solution. They were linked to Todd Frazier in trade talks, but the Yankees beat them to the punch and acquired Frazier as part of a seven-player deal with the White Sox on Tuesday.
Boston still has a week to swing a trade without waivers. Before that happens, it will give one of the game's best prospects a chance to fill its chasm at third base. Rafael Devers, who currently ranks 4th on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list and will vault into the top five when the revamped Top 100 is released Monday, will join the Red Sox in Seattle on Monday and make his big league debut on Tuesday.
Just 20 years old, Devers combines the ability to hit for average and power as few prospects can. His bat speed and strength give him huge pop to all fields. A left-handed hitter, he has advanced pitch-recognition skills, shows the ability to make adjustments and for the most part doesn't try to do too much and just lets his power come naturally.
The youngest regular in the Double-A Eastern League this season, Devers batted .300/.369/.575 with 18 homers in 77 games at Portland. After he played in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Miami, where he went 1-for-4, Boston promoted him to Triple-A. He hit .400/.447/.600 with two homers in nine games at Pawtucket, collecting three hits on Sunday before getting called up.
Devers still is a work in progress defensively. He has average range, good hands and solid arm strength, but he also has 16 errors in 72 games at third base this year, including four miscues in eight Triple-A contests.
Devers will become the youngest player to appear in the Majors this season, edging Julio Urias. Boston's initial plan is to play him regularly against right-handed starters and use Deven Marrero versus lefties. Brock Holt, who has battled concussion symptoms and vertigo for much of the year, also will work into the mix.
While Devers was unquestionably one of the most talented hitting prospects in the Minors, whether he's ready to solve big league pitching remains to be seen. The Red Sox aggressively promoted two of the game's prospects to fill holes on their AL East division winners a year ago, with mixed results.
Andrew Benintendi thrived, batting .295/.359/.476 in 34 games before starring in the AL Division Series, but Yoan Moncada went 4-for-19 with 12 strikeouts and fanned in each of his final nine plate appearances. Moncada would have been a third-base candidate this season if Boston hadn't used him as the centerpiece of the Chris Sale trade in December.
If K/BB ratios are an indicator of hitting polish, Devers (34/63 this year) is closer to where Moncada (72/124) was a year ago than to Benintendi (39/39). Devers is a year younger than Moncada and three younger than Benintendi.
Devers should become a star in the future, but it would be unreasonable to expect him to play like one immediately. Then again, the bar has been set so low at third base that Boston doesn't need him to play like a star. He's capable of hitting .250/.330/.425, especially in a platoon role, which would be a huge upgrade.
There's no question that Devers is the Red Sox's third baseman of the future. He also has a chance to be their third baseman of the present much earlier than anyone expected.