The Boston Red Sox are rising up the MLB power rankings thanks to outstanding production from Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts. Unfortunately, the futures for both All-Star infielders in Boston feels increasingly uncertain.
Boston likely sees the writing on the wall with Bogaerts. Eligible to become a free agent this winter, negotiations with the MLB star went poorly. A contract offer Bogaerts found insulting resulted in the increasing belief that he leaves via the open market during the offseason.
Things didn’t seem as bleak for Devers. He is under contract through 2023, so the Red Sox don’t have to worry about losing two homegrown stars in a single offseason. Unfortunately for baseball fans in Boston, things still aren’t all that positive.
- Rafael Devers contract: $11.2 million salary (2022), arbitration-eligible in 2023
According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Red Sox were “eons apart in talks” with Devers on a contract extension this spring. The only positive is that team officials felt a little better that he didn’t express outright hostility towards them over their contract offer.
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Money shouldn’t be the issue. The Red Sox are owned by the Fenway Sports Group, founded by John Henry and Tom Werner. The company also owns the Pittsburgh Penguins and Liverpool F.C> with LeBron James among the partners.
An inability to pay Devers can’t be an excuse. The 25-year-old third baseman is among the most impactful players in baseball, even becoming a 2022 AL MVP candidate. Dating back to the 2021 season, Devers ranks seventh among all players in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (8.2), higher than Juan Soto (8.0) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr (7.7).
- Rafael Devers stats (2022): .333/..383/.613, 179 wRC+, .996 OPS, 16 home runs
Unfortunately for the fan base, one theme from the current regime seems to be low-ball offers to players. It would be one thing if Boston offered less to free agents, players it didn’t feel comfortable overpaying in free agency. However, it looks a lot worse when an organization tells its homegrown talent that it doesn’t believe the player has earned a contract comparable to his peers.
If the Red Sox don’t change the way they negotiate and start putting better offers on the table, there’s a real possibility a team that once had Devers, Bogaerts and Mookie Betts won’t have any of them by the 2024 season and that would be an awful look for a storied franchise worth billions of dollars.