Welcome to the Fantasy Roundtable, where the Rotoworld Baseball staff will have a free-flowing discussion about a topic de jour. The back-and-forth between the five of us occurred via email, but we’ve repurposed it in an article for your enjoyment. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it, anyway.
Christopher Crawford: Ah, the hot corner.
Third base is an interesting position right now, as there are a plethora of quality options at the moment who all appear to either be in their prime or approaching it; with a few that might have just passed it. There are always a few folks who have a chance to change positions in the coming years; most famously a third baseman who is the son of a Hall of Famer.
This is close, but my pick for top third baseman in 2025 is Rafael Devers. Not only was he outstanding with 54 doubles, 32 homers and a slash of .311/.361/.555 in 2019, he did it before turning 23 on October 23. There are lots of quality options here, but Devers ranks at the top for me.
Who's coming with me?
Drew Silva: I think I'm with you on Devers, Chris. A year ago, we probably would have all said Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but he mostly underwhelmed as a rookie, especially on the defensive end. He should quickly figure it out offensively, but it seems likely at this point that Vlad Jr. will be the Jays' primary first baseman or even DH five years from now.
Last year, Devers finished 12th overall among position players in FanGraphs' version of WAR, and the analytics back up his breakout as being fully legitimate. He ranked high on Statcast's season-long average exit velocity leaderboard, ahead of renowned sluggers like Matt Olson, Josh Bell, Jose Abreu, and Jorge Soler. And, going back to the age thing, Devers will only be 28 years old in 2025.
I hate to leave Nolan Arenado out of this conversation, but he just turned 29 years old and is reportedly already itching to get out of Colorado.
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Matthew Pouliot: This position is probably the toughest call of all, in large part because Devers and Guerrero are both candidates to be at other spots by 2025. Devers showed enough improvement last year to give some hope that he’ll last at the hot corner, but the Red Sox are also looking at eventually having to move Xander Bogaerts off shortstop. Bogaerts to third and Devers to first seems like it might be their long-term play, though the development of some of their young infielders and Bogaerts’ opt out will have something to say about it.
For that reason, I’m going to make the safer call here and choose Alex Bregman. He should be a tad past his prime at age 31 in 2025, but he should still be awfully good as a four-category player. Ignoring the position stuff, I’d rank them Guerrero, Devers and then Bregman.
D.J. Short: I have to go with Devers, though Matthew makes some good points about where Boston’s infield could stand five years from now. Still, the growth we saw from him last year was off the charts. Drew already mentioned Devers’ penchant for hitting the ball hard, but he also cut his strikeout rate from 24.7 percent in 2018 all the way to 17 percent. Not bad for a 23-year-old. I’m excited to see how his approach evolves as time moves on.
Another name worth throwing out there is Yoan Moncada. He also cut down on his strikeout rate last year, seeing it fall from 33.4 percent in 2018 to a more manageable 27.5 percent. He was much more aggressive than in the past, attacking much earlier in the count. No, Moncada is not going to repeat a .406 BABIP, but he’s a strong across-the-board contributor in what should be a monster White Sox lineup for the next few years. He'll be in his age-30 season five years from now, so we should still expect good things.
Ryan Boyer: Admittedly, I'm pretty torn on this one.
As you guys have alluded to, the odds for some of these players moving to another position by 2025 range from "possible" to "likely." Devers is one of those guys, with an eventual move across the diamond to first base a distinct possibility. However, he also has the best combination of youth and to-date production on his side, and for that reason I think he needs to be the choice here. He narrowly beats out Vlad Jr., Moncada and Bregman for me.
I think we also should at least mention Jose Ramirez. He probably has the highest ceiling in roto leagues right now among third basemen with his power and base-stealing ability, and he's hardly ancient at 27 years of age. His inconsistency the last two seasons combined with the fact that he'll be 32 in 2025 makes him a risky choice to lead the position, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that it will happen.
Crawford: Are there any players that you could see moving to third base by 2025? One that comes to mind is Corey Seager, who by this point isn't likely to be better option at shortstop than Gavin Lux. Anyone else?
Boyer: Carlos Correa is another big shortstop who could eventually require a move to the hot corner. He'll also be just 30 years old in 2025. Paul DeJong will probably be a third baseman in the back-half of his career, although I can't see him ever reaching elite fantasy status at whatever position he plays.
Pouliot: Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Bogaerts and Correa are all candidates to be third basemen in five years. When Bregman was coming up, I thought the Astros would be better off keeping him at short and moving Correa to third. But I don’t think any of those guys is at all likely to rate as the No. 1 third baseman in 2025.
One guy who could be a factor is Gleyber Torres. I think he’ll last at shortstop, but maybe the Yankees will develop an elite defender there or pursue Francisco Lindor in free agency. The Yankees probably would have broken Torres in at third base if he hadn’t gotten hurt in 2017.
Short: I was thinking about Story as well. Of course, his value could really swing depending on if he stays in Colorado.
Crawford: The more we talk about this position, the more it becomes obvious that it's in good shape. It's also going to get better, it appears, as there are some excellent hot corner prospects in the minors. The best is Alec Bohm; a player that may need to move to first -- like so many of the players we've discussed -- but he has a chance to hit for both average and power, and should see time in Philadelphia before the end of 2021. Ke'Bryan Hayes is not your traditional power hitter at third, but he makes hard contact, and he's the rare corner-infielder that can help you in the steals category. Nolan Jones is particularly interesting if OBP is your thing, as he has draws walks with the best of them. Add in players like Brett Baty, Nolan Gorman and Josh Jung, and this is a loaded group -- especially combined with the young names already mentioned.