Red Sox

Red Sox star Rafael Devers' breakout season has him leading AL in several stats

Red Sox star Rafael Devers' breakout season has him leading AL in several stats

Rafael Devers is making a strong case to be the face of the Boston Red Sox in the very near future.

The 22-year-old third baseman is in the midst of a breakout season, even matching some of Ted Williams' impressive feats. He's been particularly good of late, batting 13-for-24 (including eight straight hits against the Cleveland Indians earlier this week) over his last five games.

Devers has quickly established himself as one of the American League's most productive players in 2019, and he ranks No. 1 or in the top 10 in several important statistical categories.

Here's a look at where he ranks among his AL peers.

Avg.: .327 (3rd)
HR: 25 (T-20th)
RBI: 94 (1st)
OBP: .375 (11th)
Runs: 99 (2nd)
Hits: 160 (1st)
XBH: 71  (1st)
Doubles: 43 (1st)
SLG: .580 (3rd)
OPS: .954 (5th)
WAR: 4.5 (8th)
Total bases: 284 (1st)

If the Red Sox were closer to a postseason berth -- they are 17 games back in the American League East and 7.5 games behind a wild-card spot -- Devers would be a top MVP candidate, and maybe even the frontrunner.

Not only are Devers' stats excellent, he's been among the most consistent players in baseball this year. April was by far his worst month of the season and he still had a respectable .282 batting average. 

The Red Sox have gone through a rollercoaster year that seems to be slipping away from them (12 losses in the last 18 games) as September approaches. But one of the silver linings has been the play of Devers, who's become a huge star and a player the Red Sox can build their team around if Mookie Betts chooses not to re-sign with Boston in free agency.

Click to find out how close Red Sox were to trading Devers>>>

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MLB rumors: Red Sox, free agent Jose Peraza agree to one-year contract

MLB rumors: Red Sox, free agent Jose Peraza agree to one-year contract

The Boston Red Sox bolstered their infield depth Thursday by agreeing to sign Jose Peraza to a one-year contract worth about $3 million plus incentives, per MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

Peraza made his Major League debut in 2015 with the Los Angeles Dodgers but spent the last four years with the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .239 with six home runs, 33 RBI and a .285 on-base percentage in 141 games during the 2019 season.

His best season came in 2018 when he batted .288 with 14 homers, 58 RBI and a .326 on-base percentage in 157 games for the Reds. All things considered, Peraza is a good buy-low candidate for the Red Sox, who also could help Boston replace Brock Holt if he departs in free agency.

The 25-year-old infielder brings plenty of positional versatility to the Red Sox. Peraza mostly played second base for Cincinnati this past season, but he also saw time at third base, left field and center field.

Peraza drew interest from at least four teams, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Report: Sox have had David Price trade talks 'with at least five clubs'>>>

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Red Sox select possible Brock Holt replacement in Rule 5 draft from Astros

Red Sox select possible Brock Holt replacement in Rule 5 draft from Astros

The Red Sox didn't leave the winter meetings empty-handed after all.

On Thursday, they selected infielder Jonathan Arauz from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. The switch-hitting infielder must spend the season on the big league roster or be offered back to the Astros for $50,000. He will compete for a roster spot as a utilityman, with the Red Sox likely moving on from free agent Brock Holt.

"He came to us highly recommended from our scouts and our analysts," VP of pro scouting Gus Quattlebaum told reporters in San Diego. "Younger guy, switch hitter, versatile glove, we think we can bounce him all around the infield. Has some work to do physically to get stronger, but we like his bat-to-ball skills, can use the field, so we're excited to give him an opportunity to compete for a utility infield position."

Arauz, 21, is a lifetime .243 hitter in the minors. Signed by the Phillies in 2014 out of Panama, he went to the Astros in the 2015 trade that sent closer Ken Giles to Houston and former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, among others, to Philadelphia.

He split last season between High A and Double A, hitting .249 with a career-high 11 home runs. He has spent the bulk of his minor league career at shortstop, but he also appeared in 86 games at second and 32 at third.

"We feel he can play short," Quattlebaum told reporters. "Anytime you have a young kid that you're pushing to the big leagues, the fact that he can bounce all over the infield, I think that helps his chances of sticking."

Added Quattlebaum: "We had some questions on the right side of our infield and we're looking for the most versatile athletes we can bring in to the organization. We have other guys internally that we believe in as well, but we think he can come in and compete."

The Red Sox used to be active in the Rule 5 draft in the early days of Theo Epstein, taking players like left-hander Javier Lopez, who went on to have a long career as a specialist, or speedy outfielder Adam Stern. A deep roster and farm system had left them out of the Rule 5 market in recent years, but the combination of a shallow farm system and the 26th man that will be added for the 2020 season made diving back in more palatable.

In the minor league portion of the draft, the Red Sox selected a pair of Double-A right-handers: Raynel Espinal from the Yankees and Jose Espada from the Blue Jays.

"Espinal's an older guy, he's 26 years old out of the Dominican," Quattlebaum said. "He's still recovering from Tommy John surgery, so credit our medical staff, our scouts, our analysts, they've all spoken up on all these guys that we've selected, and we came away comfortable with what we saw in the medical review. We're hopeful that he can get back, I would say sometime mid-summer. Power arm, chance to start. Wouldn't draw it up as the most cosmetic of deliveries, but our scouts and our analysts feel that he has some starter upside."

As for Espada: "Power arm," Quattlebaum said. "Missed some time last year with an elbow sprain, so not all of our scouts were able to lay eyes on him, but it's a big arm, we like the fastball-slider combo and figured it was worth a shot."

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