Raphael Devers Staying in Boston.
The Red Sox are finalizing their star third baseman An 11-year, $331 million contract extension, establishing the 26-year-old slugger as the cornerstone of the next generation at Fenway Park After some high-profile departures in recent years, Devers will be the clear face of the franchise — and its offensive catalyst — for years to come.
Here are some of the big questions surrounding the blockbuster deal — and what it means for the Red Sox moving forward.
For many in Boston, one question immediately comes to mind: Why did Devers get a mega-extension when two other homegrown superstars — outfielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts — no longer wear a Red Sox uniform?
Shortly after landing the team’s chief baseball officer job before the 2020 season, Chaim Bloom famously traded Bates to get the Red Sox under the luxury tax threshold when ownership is mandated. The decision to trade Betts — in Bloom’s mind — represented the best way to rebuild the farm system and shed salary with the veteran left-hander. David Price And included in the contract with his contract Los Angeles Dodgers. Bates eventually signed a 12-year, $365 million deal with the Dodgers — a deal he told ESPN in August he would have signed in Boston — when the Red Sox got Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong And Jeter DownsThe latter was designated and claimed by the team for recruiting this offseason Washington Nationals. The trade drew considerable backlash and remains a sore spot among fans.
Then this winter, Bogaerts, a four-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, became a free agent after he and the team failed to come to an agreement on a contract extension before the 2022 campaign. Bogaerts said he hoped to spend the rest of his career in Boston but instead received an offer of an additional year with $30 million over three years and $60 million remaining on his previous contract. The offer felt like “a slap in the face,” according to a source close to Bogaerts. Bogaerts later signed an 11-year, $280 million contract with it San Diego Padres Last month.
The truth is, Boston always prioritized signing Devers over Bogaerts. The Red Sox front office sees Devers as a potential generational bat. Since his MLB debut, Devers has posted a 162-game average of 103 runs, 179 hits, 44 doubles, 33 homers, 107 RBI and 324 total bases, according to ESPN’s Paul Hembekids.
But the biggest factor for the front office was their age. When Bogaerts hit free agency as a 30-year-old, Devers just turned 26. Bloom and his front office, however, did not feel comfortable giving a long-term contract to a player who would be in his late 40s. Deal, Devers will only be 37 when this deal is up.
Why was it so important to make this deal now?
During December’s winter meetings, the Red Sox and Devers were more than $100 million apart, according to multiple sources. This was also when Bogaerts signed with the Padres. After that injury, Bloom told ESPN in December that the team would go “beyond reason” to try to work out an extension with Devers, and ultimately, the team significantly increased the offer to bring the final total to 11 years and $331 million.
Not signing Devers to a contract extension would create a season-long distraction for the Red Sox. If Boston didn’t sign Devers before spring training, the third baseman didn’t want to negotiate until next offseason, according to a source close to Devers, increasing the possibility that the slugger could reach free agency. This lack of clarity will only add to the speculation already brewing about whether the team will have to trade Devers instead of losing another star player in free agency — in other words, a repeat of the Bates trade or what happened with Bogaerts this past season.
And locking up Devers not only makes him Boston’s focal point player for the foreseeable future, it also removes a lot of uncertainty around the franchise. While retaining Devers was always a top priority, Bogaert’s departure put pressure on the front office. Bloom joined ESPN That he regretted discussing Bogaerts. And sentiment grew in the front office, according to multiple sources, that the team needed to make a move “for the fans” after that backlash. The Devers deal is fan-friendly and still aligns with Bloom’s vision for the team’s future.
How does the Devers deal fit into Boston’s relatively frugal five-year plan?
Bloom’s hope is to rebuild the farm system and — despite setbacks with Downs — there is progress on that front. First-base prospects Tristan House Will likely be the team’s starter on opening day. Shortstop Marcelo Mayer is generating a lot of excitement about the team’s future at the position of both an offensive force and a defensive whiz. outfielder Sedden Raffaella Had a breakout season both offensively and defensively in 2022, hitting .299/.342/.538 with 21 homers, 28 stolen bases, 32 doubles and 10 triples in 116 games across Single-A and Double-A.
According to multiple front office sources, the next step? Some of these top young contributors signed extensions before they reached arbitration. Bloom believes that giving long-term contracts to established stars in their 40s is too risky an investment.
Instead, signing a player to an extension before hitting arbitration — similar to a given contract Alex Bregman by Houston Astros, Tim Anderson by Chicago White Sox And Mike Trout by Los Angeles Angels — Allows both player and team to take the same amount of risk. The team gets the benefit of locking up a promising young player to a contract that may be below market value, while guaranteeing his family generations of money before a player becomes a superstar.
What is the next step for the Red Sox this offseason?
Catcher is one spot the front office identified as a potential area for improvement in the offseason — and the team has yet to make progress there. There are teams Reese McGuireAcquired at last season’s trade deadline, and Wong, who has played just 33 games in the big leagues.
The Red Sox have previously shown interest in a trade Sean Murphy — who ended up with it Atlanta Braves — and signing the former Boston backstop Christian VazquezWho now Minnesota Twins. With the signing of notable free agent catchers, Boston will have to explore a trade.
The Red Sox could make another move to improve their starting rotation, though, with the recent signing of a veteran righty Corey Kluber A one-year contract alleviated some of that requirement.
What can fans expect from the team this season?
The Red Sox front office, at least, expects this group to contend for the playoffs, but it will take a lot to go right.
Boston sees big things ahead for Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who arrived from NPB this winter and hopes to be a free agent addition. Justin Turner can replace its production JD Martinez, who signed with the Dodgers. More production will be required from Boston Trevor’s storyBoston’s prized free agent acquisition heading into the 2022 season. Enrique Hernandez Stay healthy, while Casas needs to perform well at first base Bobby DalbeckWho was one of the weakest links in the lineup last year.
On the pitching front, a healthy combination Chris Sale and continuity from a mixture Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Hawk, Brian Bello And Kluber is a must in the rotation. The bullpen should be improved with additions Kenley Jansen And Chris Martin.
Still, a solid American League East, with an improved Citizens of North America Add an ace to the team Carlos RodonTalented team Toronto Blue Jays And Tampa Bay Rayand a young Baltimore Orioles As a team that hopes to build on its success in 2022, the Red Sox will need a lot going their way — in their clubhouse and around the division — in order for the team to avoid another last-place finish and make a legitimate push for October.