The Situation: Marco Hernandez, Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt are all on the DL and the Red Sox don’t need a fifth starter until Saturday so they have a chance to add a bat. Welcome to the bigs, Sam Travis.
The Background: A second round pick (67th overall) in 2014 by the Sox from the same Indiana roster that featured Kyle Schwarber, Travis had progressed to Triple-A in 2016 at age 22 and seemed on track to contend for the Red Sox first base job in 2017. On May 29th of last season, though, he ruptured the ACL in his left knee executing a rundown play. Ironically, this was just two months after Schwarber had torn his ACL playing for the Cubs. Travis struggled somewhat to start 2017 and on May 2nd he was at his low point, hitting just .219 with an OPS of .609. Since then, he has torn up the International League, going 23-62 and improving his OPS to .805. He has hit lefties this season at a .414 clip and he seems to provide the perfect complement to Mitch Moreland.
Scouting Report: Travis is an average defender with soft hands. He is not a fast runner, especially after his injury, but he is a smart baserunner. Though he has a plus hit tool and a contact-oriented approach with the ability to hit line drives to all fields, Travis has never shown the over-the-fence power needed to overcome the right-hand-hitting, first-base-only profile. He did add some strength in his rehab from the ACL injury, but that has not translated into an appreciable improvement in his power output to this point. He has quick hands, but his swing does not produce much loft. He has made some recent adjustments, but those have mostly made his swing a bit longer which has increased his strikeout rate without the improvement in in-game power he needs.
He is a hard worker so there is always the chance that he will find something, but he remains a potential second division regular at best.
Immediate Big League Future: Quite likely, short. While this is an opportunity, it is not likely to be one that has a chance to be extended beyond the next several games. It’s a chance for him to get his feet wet at the major-league level and for the Red Sox to see how he responds to that. —Scott Delp
Fantasy Impact:The short-term fantasy impact here is pretty much null. Travis is unlikely to survive the returns of Brock Holt and/or Pablo Sandoval, meaning he’s unlikely to be a Red Sox for more than the next, 10-or-so days. He could force his way into more playing time later in the season–especially if Hanley Ramirez really is done as a first baseman for good–but that’s a scenario for a different day.
In the long run, well, we all know that Travis has a tough fantasy profile. He’s a first baseman who doesn’t figure to muscle out more than 12-15 homers a season if he gets 500-600 PA, and given his profile, getting him to 500-600 PA might be more than half the battle. That being said, Travis should hit for a good average, isn’t afraid to take a walk and should hit more than his fair share of doubles, especially at Fenway.
Basically, Travis could have value in DFS formats (against LHP), in deep leagues, in AL Only leagues and in Doubles/OPS leagues. But for those of you playing in standard, 10-16 team, 5-category leagues, Travis is just likely to be a dude you pick up off waivers when you really need a bat. —Ben Carsley