Is it time for the Red Sox to trade Rafael Devers?
Red Sox should trade Devers before his value drops further
With the departure of Xander Bogaerts, the Boston Red Sox have lost another franchise player.
In the on-deck circle stands Rafael Devers, in his final year of arbitration and also mired in appallingly slow negotiations with the brass.
With Bogaerts, it all came down to Otto Berman’s “It’s just business,” which was later adopted and synthesized in the film “The Godfather.” The Sox made him offers so bad he had to refuse, and the San Diego Padres didn’t. After Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and a last-place crash, I fervently hope Chaim Bloom does not have any racehorses.
Back to Devers. The positive about Devers is he can hit. Oh boy, can he hit, and the potential for even more offensive mayhem is still in the left-handed swing. Devers loves to hit in the same sense that Ted Williams loved to hit. Like any great hitter, the 26-year-old slugger is all about the moment. Win or lose. Smack himself upside the batting helmet after a whiff, or do the trot after smoking one into another time zone.
The negatives, actual and potential, have been mentioned about Devers. Gold Glove? Nope. Iron Glove? Maybe. Devers is no Butch Hobson at third, but few are. That is a nightmare on any ground ball or throw. Devers has shown improvement, but when a ball is heading his way, you suck in your breath. But that kid can hit!
The Red Sox have taken a massive public relations hit with the loss of Bogaerts and the team’s all-around failings in 2022. Why not absorb all the possible misery and embark on trading Devers?
Devers will get a massive haul, at least a decade and over $300M now that the 30-year-old Bogaerts got 11 years and $280M, far exceeding projections. Some players will be collecting social security, a baseball pension, and a salary simultaneously, and Devers has the potential to be one.
But Boston management appears to have no desire to dish out the needed dough, and I cannot fault them one iota. There is a market for Devers, and – granted – it is a finite market. With the spending binge, some missed out on the big prizes on the board. Aaron Judge was heading to any one of a half-dozen big spenders, so now Bloom can take advantage of that. The Dodgers, Giants, Mets, and even the dreaded Yankees are all possibilities. Maybe the O’s need a replacement for the Chris Davis financial fiasco?
The price for Devers has gone up, and it will during the season as his free agency approaches, and I would give his testing of the market a 99% shot. But they will not get a bag of stale peanuts and a 30-year-old A+ player in exchange. A Betts-type return? Very possible, especially if a contractual quid-pro-quo is in place.
The Bogaert’s departure was not a surprise since his agent, Scott Boras, exquisitely timed the market with the contractual opt-out. The signing of Trevor Story all ready demonstrated the direction the team anticipated this would go, but also significantly decided Bogaerts’ path forward. Ditto the drafting of a talented kid, Marcelo Mayer, to potentially take over in the not-so-distant.
Are the long-term deals dead with the Red Sox?
With Bogaerts and Betts gone, the answer is staring at us. Expect signings based on immediate needs with shorter terms as the farm system becomes the ultimate replacement tool. Big Money will become a past tense with mid-range signings as the approach. Also, I expect Bloom to buy out arbitration years and possible free-agent deals with youth lock-up contracts like the Atlanta Braves have done. Garrett Whitlock is already set through 2026 with team options for the two years following.
I expect Devers to be done, so the longer he lingers, the more drama and distraction take place. Just be done with it, consummate a trade, and continue the roster building of this new, cheap era.