Mazz: In this courtroom, Rafael Devers has no defense
This feels like a good place for an old sports cliché: Rafael Devers isn’t part of the problem, he’s part of the solution. But truth be told, in 2023, he was both – the latter an obvious reference to Rafael Devers’ defense.
Let’s start here: in the entire major leagues this year, only two players made more errors than Devers: Treat Turner and CJ Abrams, both of whom are shortstops. Devers led all third baseman in errors with 19, three ahead of Max Muncy, the Dodgers “third baseman” (air quotes) who plays the position as if he’s never worm a glove. In defensive runs saved, Devers ranked 101st among 112 qualifying major leaguers in defensive runs saved, which means he wasn’t just one of the worst defenders at his position. It means he was one of the worst defenders period on a team was among the worst in the game afield.
Offensively, of course, the Red Sox finished first in the majors in OPS, something for which Devers deserves much of the credit. (Justin Turner gets some, too.) But as Devers enters the first year of a 10-year, $313.M contract he signed before last season, let’s all agree on the obvious: for him to be “worth” (again, air quotes) the contract the Red Sox granted him, he needs to play a representative third base, where his average annual salary (according to the luxury tax formulas) would be fourth. As designated hitter? Devers would be first or second depending on where you place New York Yankees underperformer Giancarlo Stanton, a man beside whom no player should currently want to stand.
But make no mistake. Devers will be the Red Sox’ third baseman in 2024, come hell or high water. Whether he will be a good one remains to be seen, at least in the field. And the Red Sox need Devers to be good enough so that the phrase Rafael Devers’ defense is not an oxymoron.
Mazz: The 2024 Red Sox offseason plan
For the Red Sox, if it hasn’t already, the 2024 season begins today. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy and manager/general manager/baseball ops alpha Alex Cora will address the media and begin sifting through the rubble of another lost year. Possibly, team officials may give us some insight into the Red Sox’ offseason plan.
In the interim, we’ll deduce some things on our own.
Over the coming days and weeks, beginning with this overview, we will offer a position-by-position breakdown of where the Red Sox stood in 2023 and where they may be headed in 2024 (and beyond). Starting tomorrow, the plan is to provide a relatively detailed look at every position on the diamond by examining where the Sox stand relative to the other teams in the American League and the entirety of Major League Baseball, all with the hopes of exploring what needs to change – and how quickly.
The good news? If the Sox are willing to spend – and longtime MLB.com correspondent Ian Browne recently sounded confident they will – improvement can come relatively quickly.
One final note: Years ago, during the heyday of owners John Henry and Tom Werner, then-general manager Theo Epstein once suggested that the goal of the Red Sox baseball operation was to have an above average major-leaguer at most every position while being no worse than average at any position. Make sense? With that in mind, we give you an opening look at the State of the Red Sox entering a pivotal offseason in an attempt to decipher the 2024 Red Sox offseason plan.