Rafael Devers is staying in Boston.
The Red Sox and their star third baseman are finalizing an 11-year, $331 million contract extension, establishing the 26-year-old slugger because the cornerstone of the following technology at Fenway Park. Following some high-profile departures lately, Devers would be the clear face of the franchise — and its offensive catalyst — for years to come back.
Listed here are a couple of of the most important questions surrounding the blockbuster deal — and what it means for the Red Sox shifting ahead.
For a lot of in Boston, one query instantly involves thoughts: Why did Devers get a mega-extension when two different homegrown superstars — outfielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts — are now not sporting Red Sox uniforms?
Shortly after getting the workforce’s chief baseball officer job forward of the 2020 season, Chaim Bloom famously traded Betts when possession mandated he get the Red Sox below the posh tax threshold. The choice to commerce Betts — in Bloom’s thoughts — represented one of the simplest ways to rebuild the farm system and reduce wage, with veteran left-hander David Worth and his contract included within the take care of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Betts ultimately signed a 12-year, $365 million take care of the Dodgers — a deal he instructed ESPN in August he would have signed in Boston — whereas the Red Sox obtained Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong and Jeter Downs, the latter of whom the workforce designated for task this offseason and was claimed by the Washington Nationals. The commerce drew substantial backlash and stays a sore spot amongst followers.
Then this winter, Bogaerts, a four-time All-Star and two-time World Sequence champion, grew to become a free agent after he and the workforce failed to come back to an settlement on a contract extension forward of the 2022 marketing campaign. Bogaerts had mentioned he was hopeful he might spend the remainder of his profession in Boston however as an alternative obtained a suggestion of a further 12 months and $30 million on prime of the three years and $60 million left on his earlier contract. The provide felt like “a slap,” in response to a supply near Bogaerts. Bogaerts subsequently signed an 11-year, $280 million take care of the San Diego Padres final month.
The reality is, Boston had all the time prioritized signing Devers over Bogaerts. The Red Sox entrance workplace views Devers as probably a generational bat. Since his MLB debut, Devers has posted a 162-game common of 103 runs, 179 hits, 44 doubles, 33 homers, 107 RBIs and 324 whole bases, in response to ESPN’s Paul Hembekides.
However the greatest issue for the entrance workplace was their ages. Whereas Bogaerts hit free company as a 30-year-old, Devers solely not too long ago turned 26. Whereas Bloom and his entrance workplace didn’t really feel comfy giving a long-term contract to a participant who’d be in his 40s by the top of the deal, Devers might be simply 37 when this contract is up.
Why was this deal so vital to get accomplished now?
Based on a number of sources through the December winter conferences, the Red Sox and Devers had been greater than $100 million aside. That additionally was when Bogaerts signed with the Padres. After that blow, Bloom instructed ESPN in December the workforce would go “beyond reason” to attempt to get an extension accomplished with Devers and, finally, the workforce considerably elevated its provide to carry the ultimate whole to 11 years and $331 million.
Not signing Devers to a contract extension would have created a season-long distraction for the Red Sox. Had Boston not signed Devers earlier than spring coaching, the third baseman wouldn’t have wished to barter till subsequent offseason, in response to sources near Devers, growing the probabilities the slugger would attain free company. That lack of readability would have solely elevated the hypothesis already brewing over whether or not the workforce wanted to commerce Devers moderately than lose one other star participant in free company — in different phrases, a repeat both of the Betts commerce or what occurred this previous season with Bogaerts.
And locking up Devers not solely makes him Boston’s centerpiece participant for the foreseeable future, it additionally removes loads of uncertainty surrounding the franchise. Whereas retaining Devers was all the time a prime precedence, the departure of Bogaerts put stress on the entrance workplace. Bloom admitted to ESPN that he had regrets over the Bogaerts negotiations. And sentiment had grown within the entrance workplace, in response to a number of sources, that the workforce wanted to make a transfer “for the fans” after that backlash. The Devers deal is fan-friendly and nonetheless aligns with Bloom’s imaginative and prescient for the workforce’s future.
How does the Devers deal match Boston’s comparatively frugal five-year plan?
Bloom’s hope is to construct again the farm system and — regardless of the setback with Downs — there may be progress on that entrance. First-base prospect Triston Casas will possible be the workforce’s starter on Opening Day. Shortstop Marcelo Mayer is creating loads of pleasure concerning the workforce’s future on the place as each an offensive drive and a defensive whiz. Outfielder Ceddanne Rafaela had a breakout season in 2022 each offensively and defensively, hitting .299/.342/.538 with 21 homers, 28 stolen bases, 32 doubles and 10 triples in 116 video games throughout Single-A and Double-A.
The following step, in response to a number of entrance workplace sources? Signing a few of these prime younger contributors to extensions earlier than they attain arbitration. Bloom believes giving established stars long-term offers into their 40s is just too dangerous an funding.
As an alternative, signing a participant to an extension earlier than he hits arbitration — just like offers given to Alex Bregman by the Houston Astros, Tim Anderson by the Chicago White Sox and Mike Trout by the Los Angeles Angels — permits each the participant and workforce to tackle an identical quantity of threat. The workforce will get the advantage of locking up a promising younger participant on a deal that could possibly be beneath market worth, whereas a participant ensures his household generational cash earlier than he turns right into a celebrity.
What is the subsequent transfer for the Red Sox this offseason?
Catcher is a spot the entrance workplace recognized as a possible space for enchancment heading into the offseason — and the workforce has but to make a transfer there. The workforce has Reese McGuire, acquired finally season’s commerce deadline, and Wong, who has performed simply 33 video games within the large leagues.
The Red Sox beforehand confirmed curiosity in buying and selling for Sean Murphy — who ended up with the Atlanta Braves — and signing former Boston backstop Christian Vazquez, who’s now a Minnesota Twin. With the notable free agent catchers signed, Boston would wish to discover a commerce.
The Red Sox might additionally make one other transfer to enhance their beginning rotation, although the latest signing of veteran righty Corey Kluber to a one-year deal alleviated a few of that want.
What can followers anticipate from the workforce this season?
The Red Sox entrance workplace, at the very least, expects this group to compete for the playoffs, however it’s going to want loads of issues to go proper.
Boston sees large issues forward for Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who came to visit this winter from the NPB, and hopes free agent addition Justin Turner can change the manufacturing of J.D. Martinez, who signed with the Dodgers. Boston may also want extra manufacturing from Trevor Story, Boston’s prize free agent acquisition heading into the 2022 season. Enrique Hernandez might want to keep wholesome, whereas Casas should carry out higher at first base than Bobby Dalbec, who was one of many lineup’s weakest hyperlinks final 12 months.
On the pitching entrance, a mixture of a wholesome Chris Sale and consistency from a mixture of Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck, Brayan Bello and Kluber within the rotation is a should. The bullpen needs to be improved with the additions of Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin.
Nonetheless, in a tricky American League East, with an improved New York Yankees workforce that added an ace in Carlos Rodon, proficient groups within the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, and a younger Baltimore Orioles group that hopes to construct upon it success in 2022, the Red Sox will want loads of issues to go their method — each of their clubhouse and across the division — for the workforce to keep away from one other last-place end and make a respectable push for October.