Red Sox: Examining potential departures of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox reacts during the fourth inning of game six of the 2021 American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on October 22, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox reacts during the fourth inning of game six of the 2021 American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on October 22, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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The Red Sox are on the cusp of two stars possibly going elsewhere

The financial bar has been for the Red Sox with the signing of Corey Seager by the Rangers – a bar that Manute Bol could limbo under it while on stilts. The impact will filter down to two players facing Red Sox contract decisions – Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers.

Bogaerts’s six-year/ $120 MM salary is now pauper pay for MLB shortstops, and he is one of the best, but Xander has a way out. After 2022 Bogaerts will be on the market at 30-years-old if he chooses to exercise his opt-out.

To compound Red Sox fan misery Bogaerts has a no-trade provision. Considering the shortstop is represented by agent Scott Boras the opt-out will be enforced unless the Red Sox have a delivery scheduled at $30 MM+ a season as an extension.

The Red Sox are now in the land of rock and a hard place with Bogaerts. An extension will be costly, and the current regime in the front office has no aversion to waving goodbye to a player approaching a free agency or once anointed a free agent. Eduardo Rodriguez and Mookie Betts attest to that. Prepare to lose Bogaerts.

Devers is usually mentioned with the attachment of “one of the finest young hitters in the game.” Devers’s day is coming as the lefty swatter is now in arbitration. The joys of free agency! The day of reckoning for the third baseman will be the conclusion of the 2023 season when Raffy becomes eligible for purchasing a Lear Jet and a Bugatti of his choice.

What is Devers’s value? Certainly in the range of Seager, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Betts. Devers has youth on his side, which translates into a contract running deep into the next decade. Do you do it?

The Red Sox once called it right with another left-handed slugger Mo Vaughn. Vaughn was a former MVP, just 30-years-old, and delivered runs in the same production territory as Devers. The Angels signed Vaughn, and after two seasons of plus production, injuries hit. That is the issue with long-term commitments. Long-term contracts have a nasty way of ending badly.

As much as I admire the talented slugger, I would measure out trade options. Devers’s trade value is at its peak, with two years remaining before the dreaded sign or pass decision kicks in. If Bloom’s strategy of building from within and shopping for closeouts works, that should happen.

George Steinbrenner knew star power and how important that was for a team and attendance. It would be best to have a centerpiece and multiple ones, on the mound, and position players in the best of all situations. It was trading one such as Devers places that in the dumpster. Goodbye to star power.

A trade of Devers would send a stark message to the followers that the Red Sox are not “all in” on getting up to speed – i.e., spending a boatload of money. But fans are resilient with their emotions and have adjusted quite favorably to the departure of a generational player in Betts.

Bloom is applying the same strategy to the Red Sox as he did with the Tampa Bay Rays. Exceptions were made, but the result was an eventual departure of costly players. Stardom guaranteed riches, just not with the Rays. This is financial “tough love” that a significant portion of RSN has difficulty grasping. I certainly am.

The Red Sox future will reside with a productive farm system, prudent spending, and looking for value where none may be perceived. The days of filling roster holes with greenbacks have left. The retention of a star player will be questionable. This Red Sox team has long been synonymous with pricy free agents and has become an afterthought on the rumor mill.

Examining the success of the Red Sox this century, it was where financial restraints became less of a burden after 2004. The team was a yearly visitor to the big spenders’ upper echelon, usually in a tit for tat mode with the Yankees. That became instrumental in a series of championships. Failure became just a speed bump and absorption of contractual dead money.

After the demise of Dave Dombrowski and the combination of big spending and trading of prospects, the approach has shifted. The new process is what we have seen with Bloom, and it may filter down to Bogaerts and Devers being elsewhere. Maybe that will change after 2022, and the two stars will remain anchored for their careers in Boston? I would not bet on it.

Free agent shortstops setting the market for Bogaerts. dark. Next