Yes, in my previous article, I wrote about Mookie Betts being involved in a trade for Miami Marlins' slugger Giancarlo Stanton. However, it takes two to tango, and the Marlins may not be interested in such a trade. Assuming Mookie Betts is with the team in 2015 (which you should by no means assume), where will he be?
I would love to see Betts with the Red Sox next season. He has great speed and has even shown some pop with the bat. His skill set looks similar to that of Carlos Gomez, and his ceiling could very well be the level of Gomez. A second baseman by trait, he has was moved to centerfield because of some guy named Pedroia at second base, and he has, at the very least, held his own in the outfield. The rookie is hitting .284 with four home runs and four steals through 89 plate appearances. He also passes the eye-ball test, as he just looks comfortable at the plate and does not strike out a lot, and not nearly as much as the center fielder who preceded him, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Betts, who has primarily been hitting at the bottom of the order to help acclimate him to the big leagues, is projected to be a leadoff hitter. He got his first glimpse at the top of the lineup on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, with Dustin Pedroia out of the lineup. He went 2-4 and scored a run in the 3-0 victory. He continued to get the start in the two hole last night and continued his hot streak, going 3-5 with a HR.
Betts has primarily been a center fielder since taking over the starting job and has done a good job, seeing that he is not a true outfield; he has not made an error while in center. However, Rusney Castillo was just signed to a seven year, $72 million dollar deal and it is said he will be the center fielder of the future. Where does that leave Mookie? He has played a little right at Fenway, but that is a very difficult position to play, especially for a second baseman (other than Brock Holt apparently), and left field will be Yoenis Cespedes' position it looks like.
Since Mookie has played the infield, could he be used as a third baseman? Holt has played well this season, but has cooled off significantly and is showing us that he is a super utility guy, and a damn good one, but not and everyday starter at a position. Will Middlebrooks has shown us that he cannot hit righties, lefties, or the breaking ball and is by no means the starter next year.
There is also the possibility that we see Betts at second base. Dustin Pedroia has played through so many injuries that it is only a matter of time that it catches up to him. Pedroia could also be on the back nine of his career already. Red Sox fans do not like to hear it, but he is not what he was even a few years ago. His average has been dropping and his slugging percentage has gone down dramatically over the past five seasons. Being told he was too small gave him a chip on his shoulder for a while, but such a small guy and such a big swing does not work when you get older and lose bat speed. The eight-year contract is starting to look like a bad move. However, Peddy will not lose his job to Betts. Betts will see playing time if Pedroia gets hurt, which is entirely possible.
However, even in the short-term, where will Betts play? With Castillo taking over centerfield when he is ready, Betts will be forced from his position. The Red Sox want him on the field, whether it is to showcase him for a deal or to get him ready for 2015, but we do not know where it will be. Right field is probably the most likely landing spot for Betts, but could that hurt his trade value, playing such a tough position or even affect him at the plate, as he focuses on learning a new position?
The most likely scenario for next season? Betts gets traded. I don't like it but it's true, and probably the only way to get Stanton or Chris Sale to Boston without parting with Xander Bogaerts or Henry Owens. Betts quickly acceded to the top of the Sox's top prospects list this season, and the Red Sox will probably take advantage of it while they can. They missed the ship on Middlebrooks and Bradley, as they seem destined to be bench players now; they do not want to do the same with Betts. That being said, Betts' approach looks like someone who will succeed, though, unlike Bradley's massive swing and Middlebrooks' habit to chase the outside pitch.
You never know what the Sox are going to do but I can tell you this, whatever position and whoever Mookie Betts is playing for next season, that team has one hell of a talented player.
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