Rafael Devers has already established himself as a star hitter in Boston. The third baseman should have a large-scale role to play in the Red Sox’s future.
With superstar outfielder Mookie Betts departing Boston and with ace Chris Sale undergoing Tommy John’s surgery which will likely see him miss a good chunk of the 2021 season, there is good reason for Red Sox fans to be concerned about their ball club. After one of the most disappointing seasons in recent time, we know find ourselves at a standstill. With the COVID-19 global pandemic, the 2020 baseball season might not even happen – which could be seen as a silver lining for the team according to many people’s predictions of how well this current Sox side would do.
But is this team really that bad? Lineup wise it isn’t. Taking out Betts from the top of the order is obviously as big a blow as you’re going to see but the rest of those players are pretty good hitters, to say the least.
With J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts you know what you’re getting with two strong hitters who can put you in position to win on any given day. The latter of the two enjoyed his greatest individual season last campaign as he homered on 33 occasions and batted in 117 runs – two career bests.
Perhaps the most important piece to this Sox side at this current moment, considering both the present and years down the line, is Rafael Devers. Devers and Bogaerts seemed to form a very unique bond on the left side of that Red Sox infield. They were the two shining lights in an otherwise extremely ghastly season. Without the two it would’ve turned very ugly.
Bogaerts finished sixth in American League MVP voting for 2019, while Devers finished 12th in just his second full season in the majors – tallying 32 homers, 115 RBI, boasting a slash line of .311/.361/.555 and leading the entire majors in total bases with an astonishing 359.
What was just as impressive as his continued growth at the plate was how far he stepped up his game from a defensive standpoint. Devers was criticized heavily in the World Series winning campaign of 2018 for his weak defensive capabilities at third base and I’m sure there were people who didn’t think he had the potential to field the position.
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His fielding percentage jumped from .926 in 2018 to .949 last season. Now that might not look very impressive but for someone who was getting stick for his mistakes the year previously, the development he showed and some of the plays he made showed him to be a capable third baseman at this moment in time and even proved that he has the potential to be a very good defensive third baseman.
With all the changes the new front office has been making, and seem like they’re going to continue to make for the next couple of years, keeping Devers on board is one of the major decisions that they have to lock down.
The 23-year-old’s current deal has him going into arbitration with the Sox for the next three years after the 2020 season, before becoming an unrestricted free agent before the 2024 season. We’re not going to be sure of any numbers on what an arbitration agreement could be right now, but you know that Devers is a player who’s going to make a lot more than this front office could be willing to give him. Giving him a contract extension in the next year or so could potentially save you a lot of problems down the road. And even then, it’s a deal you’re going to want to make and a deal Sox fans will push to get done.
Devers has all the makings of a perennial MVP-caliber hitter and is the first player to show signs of being able to become a full-time replacement for David Ortiz in that absolutely crucial clean-up spot in the line-up. His potential has him as one of the most exciting young players in the league who will be a future franchise player and this needs to be with the Red Sox.