Michael Chavis’ chances of making the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster this year are, at the moment, slim. So slim that MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo wrote earlier Friday that “at present, it would be an upset for Chavis to make the Opening Day roster, even if the Red Sox can carry 26 players.”
The 25-year-old is coming off a dismal 2020 season in which he posted a .212/.259/.377 slash line to go along with five home runs, 19 RBI, and 50 strikeouts over 42 games (158 plate appearances).
Since getting his big-league career off to a roaring start in the spring of 2019, Chavis has cooled down considerably, even while getting the opportunity to play multiple defensive positions.
As noted by Cotillo, the Georgia native split time between first and second base during his rookie season, lost out on the starting job at second base to Jose Peraza last summer, platooned with Mitch Moreland at first base for a time, and ultimately got some playing time in the outfield thanks to the emergences of Christian Arroyo and Bobby Dalbec.
In somewhat of a utility role during the closing stages of the 2020 campaign, Chavis did not do anything to distinguish himself — offensively or defensively — and things have not gotten any easier for him since then.
That being the case because earlier this week, the Red Sox officially signed Enrique Hernandez, another right-handed hitter who can play around the infield and outfield, to a two-year, $14 million contract.
Hernandez, Cotillo writes, “will likely get the lion’s share of work at second while also having the ability to play the outfield or back up at shortstop or third base.”
This would leave Arroyo, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians in August and showed flashes of potential with Boston in September, as “the primary backup” at second base, and perhaps other infield spots as well.
Seeing how Arroyo and Hernandez, as well as Dalbec and Xander Bogaerts all hit from the right side of the field, it would appear that the Sox are set in terms of rostering right-handed hitting infielders.
Taking that, and the fact that the club is still “in the market for a left-handed bench option with the ability to play first base” to complement Dalbec (Mitch Moreland, Marwin Gonzalez) into consideration, Chavis starts to become obsolete in a way.
If that notion holds true heading into the regular season, there are a number of things the Red Sox could do.
For starters, they could entertain the idea of trading Chavis, though as noted by Cotillo, “teams may be hesitant to give up anything of value for an unproven player with clear holes in his game.” Especially at a time when “so many middle-tier veteran free agents are still available.”
Trading Chavis, Cotillo writes, would also “signal that the Red Sox are giving up on their former first-round pick, meaning the team would admit another development failure in a decade in which those have been far too frequent.”
Boston selected the 5-foot-10, 210 lb. infielder/outfielder with its top selection (26th overall) in the 2014 amateur draft out of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Ga.
For the steady pace at which he developed, Chavis does only have 113 career Triple-A plate appearances under his belt, which leads to this next point.
That being, the Red Sox can afford to option Chavis to Triple-A Worcester if they so choose since he still has two minor-league options remaining.
Considering the fact that he is a former first-round pick and was at one point one of the organization’s top prospects, Chavis may be someone you do not want to give up quite yet. Especially since he is still under team control through the 2025 season.
Instead, allowing him to get regular playing time in a less stressful environment while “re-tooling his swing and fine-tuning his defense without the pressure of sticking in the majors” could be in the Red Sox’ best interest moving forward, as Cotillo notes.
Then again, in his tenure as Boston’s chief baseball officer thus far, Chaim Bloom has not shied away from reshuffling the club’s 40-man roster. Far from it, in fact.
This offseason alone, the Sox — whether it be by trade or DFA — have jettisoned approximately 19 players off its 40-man roster (not including Dustin Pedroia, who retired on Monday).
That being said, it would not be shocking to see that Bloom and Co. do not value Chavis to the point where they deem him worthy of a 40-man spot moving forward, and instead attempt to trade him for a non-40-man minor-leaguer — as was the case with Yoan Aybar in December — or designate him for assignment with the intention to sneak him through waivers.
Of course, given what Chavis still has going for him (relatively young, under team control, somewhat versatile), another team would likely try to claim him for themselves if he was placed on waivers.
In that scenario, the Red Sox would be losing Chavis for nothing, but that would probably be a risk they were willing to take if they designated him for assignment in the first place.
As Cotillo writes, Chavis’ “future will be one of the storylines to follow throughout spring training.” Personally, I do not think it would be a bad thing if he started out the season in Worcester, but we will have to wait and see on that.
(Picture of Michael Chavis: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)