Does Mookie Betts Fit Into the Red Sox’s Future?


On Tuesday, Cuban 27-year old Rusney Castillo made his Major League debut with the Red Sox, batting seventh and playing centerfield. But at the same time, his presence makes another outfielder to the roster and he now sits atop the pile of trade chips the Red Sox have compiled over the course of this season. The Red Sox now have an overwhelming number of outfielders with Brock Holt, Castillo, Jackie Bradley, Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino, Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, and Mookie Betts all on the roster.

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Betts has been the breakout star for the Sox this season, adding speed, versatility, and even a good leadoff bat throughout August and September. But the Red Sox simply cannot keep all of their outfielders for 2015. If the only spot available for him is in the outfield, does he fit into the puzzle for next season?

The 21-year old has shown throughout the past few month that he deserves to be in the big leagues. He clearly has the talent to be a very good player as he develops. Only emphasizing this point is his recent success at the plate and on the field. Throughout his last 10 games, he’s hit .270 with 6 walks and 2 RBI. On the year, he’s batted .283 and has earned himself the lead-off spot with his consistent batting average and low strikeout rate. The Red Sox have been stunned as he has kept his strikeout rate to only 14% over this season in the Majors.

With Dustin Pedroia injured, Betts has taken over his role at second base for the past few weeks. He has shown that he is good enough, defensively, to earn a spot on almost any team at second base.

Ben Cherington said that there is really no other option for Betts than at second base or in the outfield. But with Dustin Pedroia likely back at full health next season, second base won’t be an option for Betts in 2015. He either plays in the outfield, or he becomes a rather valuable trade chip for the Sox.

But the futures of all seven outfielders, including Betts, is still uncertain. The Sox still need a lot more pitching power to get anywhere next season. Trading one of two of their outfielders may be necessary to snag a number one starter for 2015. Whether Betts will be involved in a package deal, nobody knows.

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Betts could become a very valuable trade chip for the Sox, if dealing him off is what the they are planning to do this offseason. He’s a versatile young player that would help out a lot of offensively-struggling teams. It could be that the Sox have just been showcasing his talent for the second half of this season in preparation for a major trade.

But at the same time, Betts could be squarely in the middle of the Red Sox’s plans for 2015 if he stays. He can play almost any outfield role, even in right field with the Green Monster. His ability to hit for average and steal bases makes him a viable candidate to hit leadoff. He could even be the one to fill Jacoby Ellsbury‘s shoes in center, a role many people expected Jackie Bradley to step up and claim.

“Mookie’s done a lot of things at the big league level. He looks like someone who can help us win games” Ben Cherington said. “I don’t know, where you are where we are, we need more good players, not fewer.”

He could find a home in right field, as Rusney Castillo will likely bump him out of the center field spot. His speed and glove makes him a suitable candidate to play in front of the monster. And even if Yoenis Cespedes or Allen Craig takes right field, there’s always left. If Betts can continue to produce the way he is, he will definitely beat out Shane Victorino or Daniel Nava for the left field spot.

We all know that the Red Sox can’t keep all seven of their outfielders for next season. But Mookie Betts should be a part of the remainder that they keep. Unless a trade involving him comes up that is impossible to pass up, the Sox should keep him for 2015 and build their outfield around his speed and talent.