Red Sox Rumors: Chaim Bloom open to “long-term deals” for core players

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

The Red Sox could offer contract extensions to their core players.

The Boston Red Sox were one of the worst teams in baseball this season but this isn’t a rebuilding project that they need to start from scratch. The roster has a very strong core of young players and their path back to contention will be determined by how they build around them. The key will be keeping that core together so that they can fill in complementary pieces to support them.

They have their best talent under control through at least next season but it’s not too early to think about locking them in for the long haul. According to NESN, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters during a conference call that he’s open to discussing extensions for certain players.

"“It’s going to be a different offseason, but I wouldn’t at all rule out the possibility of us engaging with players on long-term deals,” Bloom told reporters. “That’s something if we did it, it’s something we would do our best to keep in-house unless there’s an agreement. But I think as long as there’s mutual interest, if there’s a mutual fit, I don’t see why we wouldn’t look into it and pursue it.”"

The inability to convince Mookie Betts to sign an extension ahead of free agency ultimately cost the Red Sox one of the game’s best players. Boston made a legitimate effort to lock up Betts but the former MVP would settle for nothing less than a top of the market deal to sway him away from free agency.

As one of the game’s biggest superstars, it was important for Betts to maximize his earning potential knowing he would help set the market for players hitting free agency in the future. Few players are in that same position and some of them may have other priorities.

Perhaps they are comfortable in their current environment and aren’t willing to uproot their lives to chase every last dollar. Some favor the security of locking in a long-term deal as soon as possible to protect themselves from the risk of severe injury or decline. Players who are several years away from hitting the open market might agree to an extension that pays more in the short term even if it appears team-friendly in the long run.

We saw Xander Bogaerts take a similar route when he agreed to a 6-year, $120 million extension last year. The All-Star shortstop almost certainly would have made more money if he had waited until after the 2019 season to test free agency considering he had a career year that saw him finish fifth in AL MVP voting. He wanted to stay in Boston though and was eager to get a deal done.

We don’t know if any of the other young players on the team will be as open to an extension but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Eduardo Rodriguez would seem to be the top priority. He’s eligible for free agency after the 2021 season and a team thin on pitching can’t afford to lose one of their best starters. There’s some risk in locking up E-Rod after he sat out this entire season while recovering from a heart condition brought on by COVID-19. He’s expected to be ready for next season but both sides might want to wait and see how he responds to ramping up baseball activities before sitting down at the negotiating table.

Rafael Devers will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and remains under club control through the 2023 season. An extension that buys out his arbitration years plus at least one year of free agency creates cost certainty for both sides. Devers would likely earn a bit more over the next few years than he would through the arbitration process but the deal could end up being a bargain for the team if he continues to emerge as a star player. Delaying his opportunity to test free agency benefits the team and even as Devers begins to get more expensive on a back-loaded deal, his salary for luxury tax purposes would remain reasonable.

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Alex Verdugo is another cornerstone of the team’s future. He’s not arbitration-eligible until 2022 and under control through 2024. Verdugo has only spent one shortened season in Boston but he adapted quickly to his new home. There’s less urgency to discuss an extension so it might be safer to wait and see how he fits in over a full season. If Verdugo is interested and the sides can find a deal that works, we can’t rule it out though. The prize of the Betts deal is expected to be a big part of this team’s future either way.

The situation is quite a bit different for J.D. Martinez but there’s a scenario that could make sense for both sides if he opts out of his contract. The expectation is that he will opt-in considering his poor season and the uncertain free-agent market in this COVID-19 climate.

However, Martinez could opt out with the intention of signing a new deal with the Red Sox. Boston might be able to sign him for slightly cheaper than the $19.35 million per year he’s owed in each of the next two seasons while tacking on another year or two. Even if he’s not willing to take a pay cut, a new deal could keep him in Boston longer while reducing his luxury tax hit from the $23.75 million he accounts for on his current contract.

With the Red Sox resetting the luxury tax penalties this year, now is the perfect opportunity to extend key players. Ownership has expressed a willingness to spend again so paying a bit more in 2021 when the tax penalties would be minimal would be a wise move if it saves them in the long run.

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Extension negotiations are a two-way street. The players need to be willing to take a deal that might limit their potential future earnings in order to lock in the security of a long-term contract. It’s not the right move for everyone but if any of their cornerstone pieces are willing to talk about it, Bloom’s door appears to be open.