Red Sox fans wish for a long term extension for Rafael Devers:
As previously mentioned, Bloom has yet to spend big on top tier free agents to this point in his tenure as Chief Baseball Officer for the Red Sox. With the upper echelon of free agent starting pitching already off the board, Bloom could look to spend big one one of the marquee bats still available on the open market.
Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Freddie Freeman headline a class of available free agents that would certainly qualify as a splashy move, and each would fortify an offense that’s already one of the best in the game. However, none truly classify as a need heading into 2022. The addition of Correa or Story would likely result in a position change for Xander Bogaerts, and Freeman would displace younger, more affordable options in Bobby Dalbec and top prospect, Triston Casas.
If Bloom, armed with a large market payroll that’s operated under the luxury tax threshold the past two seasons, were to open the checkbook and hand out a lengthy deal at a high AAV, his first option should be a player already on the roster rather than a big name free agent. Rafael Devers.
The 25-year-old third baseman is coming off another tremendous season. He made his first All-Star appearance, received MVP votes, and took home the Silver Slugger award. While questions about his defense at third base remain, there is no doubt that his bat is special, and his offensive ceiling remains untapped.
Bloom was tasked with paring down the payroll and getting the organization under the luxury tax threshold as his first major project when he took the job after the 2019 season. To achieve the desired financial results he had to trade away homegrown superstar and perennial MVP candidate, Mookie Betts, ahead of free agency. Betts would eventually sign a 12-year, $365 million contract extension with the Dodgers. Seeing Betts traded as part of a salary dump to atone for reckless spending by the prior regime was a stinging blow to the fan base. A large market, high revenue franchise like the Red Sox should never lose a talent like Betts for financial reasons, but the escalating penalties for exceeding the luxury tax threshold made it a reality.
Now, just two years later, the Sox could face a similar situation with Devers if they don’t get out in front of an extension soon.
Like Betts, Red Sox Nation has watched Devers grow up, as a player and as one of the more fun and unique personalities in the sport. His enthusiasm and passion for the game are infectious, and his work ethic is unmatched. His evolution into one of the game’s elite hitters has put him in position for a large payday when he becomes a free agent after the 2023 season.
By all accounts, Devers enjoys being a member of the Red Sox and would welcome extension talks if approached by the club ahead of free agency. While MLB contracts have ballooned in recent years, the opportunity to buy out Devers’ remaining arbitration years and get him a sizable annual raise sooner than later may be enough to entice him into a slightly under market long-term deal. Speculative extension numbers range from the 8-year, $220 million to 10-year, $250 million range.
Whatever the contract numbers turn out to be, having Devers locked up long term as the foundational piece of this core would be a welcome gift to the fans of Red Sox Nation.