The Milwaukee Brewers have a glaring need in their player position group in 2020 and potentially for the foreseeable future. They do not have a quality third baseman. David Stearns likes to acquire young, controllable talent. One player that fits this profile as well as the added potential for super stardom, is the Boston Red Sox Rafael Devers.
Devers has three arbitration years remaining after 2020, and he will not be a free agent until 2024. If he produces like he did in 2019, he is going to become expensive later on in the arbitration process. So far in 2020 however, Rafael Devers has struggled mightily. He is slashing .222/.272/.402 with a wRC+ of 76. This is likely not in line with what he will do in the years to come.
Devers is more likely to produce at his 2019 levels throughout his career. The soon to be 24 year old slashed .311/.361/.555 with a 132 wRC+ in 2019. He launched 32 home runs and totaled 87 extra base hits. And he was responsible for the scoring of 129 runs and driving in 115 runs. With a 5.9 fWAR in 2019, the very young Rafael Devers looks to be an elite hitter who is set to man third base for years to come in Boston. That is unless a team can convince the Red Sox to part with him.
Rafael Devers has incredible bat speed, and he hits the ball very hard. Take a look at his exit velocity (top 5%) and hard hit percentage (top 7%) from 2019. Remember he put up these numbers and hard hit rates at the age of 22.
He is not barreling the ball anywhere near as consistently in 2020 as he did in 2019. That should change. As Devers ages towards his peak, which for baseball players is age 26-29, we could see a consistent 7.0-8.0 WAR player. Now think about Devers at Miller Park.
Miller Park is a left-handed hitter’s paradise. SportsAnalyticsSimulator.com analyzed it to be that way at least.
Miller Park, home to the Milwaukee Brewers, is in the top 3 of hitter friendly ball parks. The 620 feet altitude and retractable roof helps hitters and the short measurements to right center was best for left-handed hitters.
Rafael Devers is, of course, a left handed hitter. Fenway rewards left handed hitters that go the other way and get the ball in the air. Devers has that ability, but the ability that he really has is to turn on pitches and crush them to right field, which you can see from the spray chart below. There are not many ballparks better to do that if you are a left handed hitter than Miller Park.
The Boston Red Sox are not playing very well right now, sitting in the cellar of the A.L. East with a record of 10-21. It would take a bit of a miracle for them to get back in the race. The Red Sox have the resources to reload quickly, and any good MLB executive would see that Devers is the type of player to build around. Yet any good MLB executive knows that a Devers-like player is a most valuable commodity. Any team that could pry Devers from Boston would have to give up a lot.
For the Brewers to get Devers, there would be a great deal of pain involved. The names that would have to be discussed on the prospect front would have to include: Garrett Mitchell, Brice Turang, Ethan Small, Mario Feliciano, and more. In fact those prospects won’t move the needle by themselves. The players on the major league roster would have to be discussed. The players we are talking about that would have to front a package for Devers would be: Keston Hiura, Luis Urias, Drew Rasmussen, Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes, and maybe even Josh Hader.
Trading for Devers would give the Brewers the type of bat they desperately need to couple with Christian Yelich. They would also shore up a position of significant need for years to come. Devers would be a difference maker, and he has yet to smell his prime years. What the Brewers would have to give up would be astronomical. At the same time, he might be worth it.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Savant