The Boston Red Sox lost the most important part of their middle infield when Xander Bogaerts departed in free agency. They will now be without his potential replacement for an indefinite period of time, which may lead to a somewhat surprising defensive change.
Trevor Story recently underwent elbow surgery and will not be ready for the start of the season. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom would not commit to a recovery timeline, but there is a chance Story will miss much of the 2023 season.
Story was an option to replace Bogaerts at shortstop. He was primarily a shortstop before he signed a six-year, $140 million deal with Boston last offseason, at which point he moved to second base. His ability to play both positions gave the Red Sox flexibility and is probably one of the main reasons they signed him as Bogaerts insurance.
Now, both Bogaerts and Story need to be replaced, at least for a while. Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters on Wednesday that the team is evaluating whether they will move center fielder Kiké Hernandez to shortstop.
Hernandez has played mostly in the outfield during his MLB career, but he is a utility player who is capable of contributing just about anywhere. Before the Red Sox lost Bogaerts to the San Diego Padres, Cora gushed about Hernandez’s play in center field.
“He’s one of the best center fielders in the big leagues, and hopefully he can have a lot of reps out there,” Cora told NESN’s Tom Caron on the “TC & Company Podcast” back in October.
That is probably a good indication that the Red Sox would prefer to keep Hernandez in the outfield, but his versatility will allow them to be flexible.
It looked like Hernandez might become Boston’s full-time second baseman when they signed him prior to the 2021 season. He ended up playing mostly center field, which is obviously where Cora wants him.
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