Red Sox Not Budging Despite Calls to Add Top Prospect

Red Sox top prospect Marcelo Mayer

Getty Red Sox top prospect Marcelo Mayer

The Red Sox entered 2024 with a couple of big hopes that were intrinsically tethered to one another. One was that the team’s overall defense could show vast improvement over last year, when Boston ranked dead last in defense, according to Fangraphs, with a minus-41.9 defensive runs above average rating. The other was that shortstop Trevor Story could finally give the team a full healthy season.

Well, 0-for-2 on both counts. Story made it through just eight games after having played a total of 137 in the past two seasons with the Red Sox, injuring his shoulder and leaving him out for the season. And while the Red Sox are not the worst team in baseball defensively, they are not far off—they’re 28th, with a rating of minus-7.6.

Turns out, though, that the Red Sox happen to have one of the best young shortstops in baseball already on the payroll, and with surprisingly solid early-season results on hand, there have been increasing calls for Boston to make a surprise move. The shortstop is 21-year-old former No. 4 overall pick Marcelo Mayer, and the move would be to bring him up to the majors, ready or not.

Marcelo Mayer In Boston By September?

Alas, Mayer is still in Double-A Portland, and probably is not going anywhere soon. He was the Red Sox’s first-round pick in 2021, and might have been in more of a position to make the move to Boston if he had a bit more of a minor-league resume in the past three years. He injured his shoulder, though, after being called up to Portland last summer, and the Red Sox want him to accumulate more experience before adding him to the big-league roster.

As Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic wrote this week, Mayer coming to Boston in 2024 is entirely possible, but it’s just unlikely to happen before the trade deadline.

“There have been calls to promote Mayer given his hot start, but the Red Sox want to solidify his development in Portland, particularly given he’s never played a full season of minor-league ball due to injuries,” McCaffrey wrote.

“That’s not to say a big league call-up this year is out of the question; it’s just highly unlikely in the first half. A more likely timeline could see Mayer, if he continues to stay consistent on this hot stretch, promoted to Triple A in June or July. Depending on the big-league team’s status, Mayer may get a call-up to Boston in August or September.”

Red Sox Shortstop Situation Needs a Solution

The Athletic rates Mayer as the No. 8 overall prospect in baseball, and Baseball America has him as No. 21 overall. And he is off to a fast start this season, batting .314 through 12 games. But he also has 13 strikeouts against just two walks—the Red Sox need hm to improve as a hitter before he gets to the bigs.

Mayer is a good shortstop, described by Baseball America as a, “rhythmic, fluid defender who moves efficiently to the ball with quick hands to pick and transfer it cleanly. Most evaluators see him sticking at shortstop in the near term, with an average glove and plus arm.”

Patience will win out here. Still, the Red Sox’s shortstop situation is untenable as it stands. David Hamilton has taken over for Story, and not only is weak defensively, but he is hitting a paltry .182 in 11 games. Romy Gonzalez could take the reins soon, but he is on the 10-day disabled list.

Red Sox starters have gotten off to a scalding start,  with a 9-3 records and a 1.73 ERA, and the team is 13-10 despite a collective batting average of .228. There’s a chance to at least stay in the hunt for a playoff spot this summer, but the Red Sox need something—a glove or a bat—out of the shortstop spot.

It won’t come soon, but Mayer could provide one for sure.

Read More