The Red Sox were known to be looking for middle infield help even before the news broke earlier this week Trevor Story:’s internal brace surgery on his right elbow, which could keep him on the injured list for most (or possibly all) of the 2023 season. Two names have been on Boston’s radar since Story’s surgery, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Sox are interested in both. Jurickson Profar and: Elvis Andrus.
In terms of being a replacement for Story at shortstop, Andrus is better because the veteran could just slide into the regular shortstop role. Besides 25 games as a DH, Andrus played exclusively in the other 1914 games of his short 14-year career. The public defensive stats are a bit mixed on Andrus’ glove (+4.7 UZR/150 and +3 strikeouts above average in 2022, offset by a -4 Defensive Runs Saved), but overall, Andrus still looks like he can deliver the least acceptable defense even at 34 years old.
Andrus has been inconsistent at best throughout his career, but he had a lot of success in his final season with the White Sox in 2022. Released by the A’s in August, Chicago signed Andrus as a replacement. get hurt Tim Anderson, and Andrus responded with a very solid .271/.309/.464 slash line and nine home runs in 191 plate appearances in the pale sock. His season total of 105 wRC+ and his 3.5 fWAR were Andrus’ most in any category since 2017, and his 17 homers were the second most of his career.
Despite this nice performance, there hasn’t been much buzz about Andrus on the open market this winter, as teams are likely more focused on Andrus’ age, his ability to repeat his 2022 numbers, and his more invisible mark in his final stretch before last season. — Andrus accumulated a modest 4.3 fWAR from 2018-21 combined. However, there was some speculation that Andrus’ market wouldn’t really pick up until the Big Four made a short free-agent stop (Trea Turner:, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson) were off the board, and teams still in need of shortstop help could turn to Andrus as more of a shortstop option.
The Red Sox technically fit this description given the loss of Bogaerts, and Boston has shown at least some interest in outfield trade targets such as; Amed Rosario, Paul DeJong, Joey Wendleand (before he was traded from the Marlins to the Dodgers) Miguel Rojas. All of these players would get consideration for shortstop work, as the Sox could then stick to their original usage plan. Enrique Hernandez primarily in center field, or at least as a player who could bounce around the diamond rather than someone mostly locked into a shortstop role.
The addition of Profar will create some change in the lineup, and will likely lead to Hernandez getting more time in the short term. Profar hasn’t played shortstop since 2018, and while he was once versatile, 2022 marked the first time Profar played exclusively one position as the Padres only deployed him in left field. Newly signed Masataka Yoshida has already been tabbed for left field duty at Fenway Park, so the Red Sox could move Profar (who turns 30 in February) to other outfield positions, or possibly to second or first base.
MLBTR projected Profar to a two-year, $20MM deal this winter, and the Yankees and Astros have both shown some interest in his services at various times this winter. Two weeks ago, MLBTR coach Anthony Franco broke down the potential market for Profar and some teams that could fit in, though the Red Sox were left out due to speculation that Yoshida filled an outfield need. Of course, injuries can bring in new teams instantly, and Profar’s market could expand even further if teams see him as a candidate only for positions out of left field.