Rafael Devers, a third baseman for the Red Sox, has virtually guaranteed that he won’t be the team’s newest homegrown star to switch teams. Devers and the Sox are nearing completion of an 11-year, $331 million extension, a source informed Mark Feinsand on Wednesday.
The club hasn’t authorized the move. One day after the parties reached a $17.5 million, one-year agreement for the 2023 season to avoid arbitration, the news of the impending deal—which would be the largest in Red Sox history by total value—broke. Devers’ contract will rank sixth among all MLB contracts by total weight. His $30.09M average annual value will be the 21st highest.
The timing of a significant agreement with Devers could not be more ideal, as the team’s fan base was in disarray after Xander Bogaerts walked away as a free agent last month to the Padres on an 11-year, $280 million deal. The Red Sox may have faced an identity crisis in the years to come as to who would be the face of the franchise with Bogaerts moving to the West Coast.
That problem won’t exist anymore. Devers, who can’t help but smile all the time and who has become one of baseball’s best run producers while playing with joyous exuberance, should be the face of the Red Sox for years to come.
Devers has improved throughout the last two seasons, ranking sixth in MLB in extra-base hits with 146 while posting a .287/. 355/. 530 hits (137 OPS). The left-handed slugger, only 26 years old, is entering his seventh season in the major leagues.
After losing Bogaerts to the Padres, the Red Sox were fully aware that now wasn’t the time to suffer another significant PR blow, let alone lose another player with elite run-producing abilities.
The Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in February of 2020, but that was more of a calculated move based on years of fruitless negotiations with the five-tool star. Only Devers and frequently injured ace Chris Sale are left from the World Series-winning 2018 juggernaut. The only other members of that group are relievers, Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier.
The Red Sox will have a new look to their team next season as the former core members of the Red Sox, Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez (Dodgers), Nathan Eovaldi (Rangers), and Christian Vázquez (Twins) have all moved on.
However, with Devers firmly established and his contract situation no longer a concern, things will feel calmer.
The Red Sox’s 2023 lineup will be led by Devers, Trevor Story, Japanese rookie Masataka Yoshida, and veteran free agent Justin Turner, who recently reached a deal on a two-year deal with a player option that is still pending a physical. The Red Sox will attempt to make a comeback from finishing last in the American League East. Other vital players in manager, Alex Cora’s lineup for the upcoming season are anticipated to be Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo.
But now that Devers and Boston’s management have agreed on an extension before Opening Day, the Red Sox have the face of their team for the long term. Devers will have the opportunity to join the elite group of Red Sox players if he stays for the remainder of his career, or at least most of it. Devers surpassed Ted Williams and Betts for the most extra-base hits in club history before 26, with 333 in his first six seasons.
All parties involved—the front office, the players, and Devers—stand to gain from the arrangement.
On August 9, 2013, the Red Sox signed Devers, a free agent from the Dominican Republic. At the time, he was 16 years old, and the club paid a $10.5 million signing bonus to secure him.
The Sox called up Devers to the Major Leagues at 20 amid a pennant race rather than making a significant move at the Trade Deadline in July 2017.
The Red Sox won the AL East thanks to his immediate impact. Devers was a bright spot for Boston in the 2017 American League Division Series against Houston, even though they fell to them in four games. In Game 4, his inside-the-park home run sent Fenway Park into a complete frenzy. A comeback attempt in that game came up short, but Devers would make up for it in subsequent Octobers.
Devers hit a three-run home run off Justin Verlander in the 2018 World Series-winning season to clinch Game 5 of the AL Championship Series. Devers delivered the game-winning hit in the top of the ninth inning of Game 4 of the Fall Classic, which the Red Sox won in five games against the Dodgers.
Then there was the postseason of 2021 when Devers blasted five home runs to push a fledgling team within two victories of the World Series.
Given that his contract situation is almost inevitable, Devers in Boston may perform numerous October miracles.