In the beginning of the season, the corner infield positions were two of the biggest question marks on the Boston Red Sox. However, after 20 games of the 2016 regular season, Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw have turned into two of the most reliable players in the starting lineup. Han-Ram has played stellar defense, while also batting a modest .266 with one homer and 10 RBIs.
The biggest surprise this season has been the play of 26-year-old Travis Shaw. Last season, Shaw played in 65 games, batting .270 with 14 home runs and 36 RBIs. Coming into the season, people were concerned that Shaw would not be able to continue with this pace from last season, but he has done just the opposite. In 20 games, Shaw is batting .324 (6th best in the American League) with two home runs and 14 RBIs. Additionally, he has played great defensively at his new position of third base. Going into the season, third base was considered a huge question mark, but has since turned into one of Boston's best positions on the diamond.
However, could this present a problem with the Red Sox farm system and young players' development in Boston?
At the end of this season, when David Ortiz retires (cries), most project that Hanley Ramirez will take over the duties as a designated hitter and, subsequently, Travis Shaw could move to first base. At this point, the Red Sox could be in the market for a third basemen if Devers and/or Moncada are not ready at the start of next season. Because Moncada projects as a once-in-a-generation type of talent, the Red Sox should not heavily invest in a third basemen on the free agent market.
However, the Red Sox have been heavily rumored in regards to Toronto sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, which could add another layer to this already complex situation. Encarnacion plays first base, but has been transitioning to the role of designated hitter as he progresses in age. David Ortiz has already voiced his opinion that Encarnacion could be the next great Red Sox DH. While Bautista primarily plays right field, he can play first base, as well, and has been rumored with the Red Sox for years.
If the Boston Red Sox truly believe that Travis Shaw can be any everyday player, and perhaps even an all star, then they could be in the market to trade Rafael Devers in a deal that could bring in starting pitching. Whether it be leaving Shaw at third or moving him to first base after this year, the Red Sox should continue to roll Shaw out there every day as long as he continues to produce. A package of Devers, Swihart and other prospects could land the Red Sox a top-tier pitcher and solidify their push for a playoff spot come October.