Why the addition of Vaughn Grissom should excite Red Sox fans

Why the addition of Vaughn Grissom should excite Red Sox fans originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Other than starting pitching, one could argue the Boston Red Sox's biggest offseason need was a reliable everyday second baseman. They may have found one in 23-year-old middle infielder Vaughn Grissom.

Just before the new year, the Red Sox acquired Grissom from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for veteran left-hander Chris Sale. With Trevor Story at shortstop, the expectation is the former top prospect will be Boston's starting second baseman on Opening Day. Their presence should provide stability in the middle of the infield, something the Red Sox severely lacked throughout their last-place 2023 campaign.

Although Grissom struggled defensively at shortstop when given a chance in Atlanta, there's reason to believe a position switch and a change of scenery will help him unlock his potential in Boston. Braves beat writer Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke highly of Grissom's ability in a conversation with NBC Sports Boston.

"I think he's a serviceable second baseman. I think that's a great spot for him," Toscano said. "I think he'll be good there. I think he's gonna take a couple leaps because we didn't see him in a ton of opportunities in the majors last season, so with that whole season in the minors and then winter ball in his offseason, I think there's a chance that he's gotten markedly better.

"And so, I do think that Red Sox fans should be excited for the sheer fact that, look, he's going to give you solid defense at second base. He's athletic enough to be a solid defensive second baseman, and really, that's what a lot of second basemen are in today's game. The defensive studs are gonna play shortstop. Given that and the bat, I think this is a nice improvement for Boston."

If Grissom can even be average defensively, it will be a massive upgrade from what the Red Sox had last season. Second base was a revolving door with nine different players splitting time at the position. Boston's middle infield ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every defensive category.

As for Grissom's right-handed bat, it should intrigue Sox fans. He slashed .330/.419/.501 in 102 Triple-A games last season and .280/.313/.347 in 23 big-league appearances. In 2022 with the Braves, he hit .291/.353/.440 with five home runs in 41 games.

"He's going to give you solid defense at least and his bat's gonna be great," Toscano added. "I think he's really, really gonna shine in a full 162. I'm not gonna say he's gonna blow the doors off of anybody or blow away expectations, but I do think over 162 he's really gonna shine, because his numbers when he did get opportunities in Atlanta, especially in that second half of 2022, were terrific."

While Grissom's power numbers won't jump off the page, it's worth noting his first MLB home run was a moonshot over the Green Monster at Fenway Park. He also adds an element of speed that the Red Sox offense has lacked outside of outfielder Jarren Duran.

Toscano believes Grissom's offensive ceiling is high.

"He's a tremendous baserunner. He's quicker than he looks and he's got long strides, he's tall, and he's very instinctive. And then you've got the bat," he said. "Like I said, tremendous bat-to-ball skills. I think there's opportunity for some more power there. The one thing I do wonder about so far is the exit velocity figures to this point haven't been terrific.

"But again, small sample size, the guy's batting average and OPS are still there, so at this point I'm going to choose to take the results because we don't have a ton of sample in terms of metrics. And so, yeah, I think it's very good for the Red Sox."

Grissom has an opportunity to become the full-time starting second baseman not just in 2024, but for several years to come. He's under team control through the 2029 season.