Expectations were high as the Boston Red Sox entered this offseason.
For the first time in many years, they had financial flexibility and a strong farm system at the same time. And with virtually no long-term contractual obligations, they looked poised to make a strong statement about the direction of the franchise.
Unfortunately, the statement they’ve made thus far has been more in line with the cheap, cautious, and downright mystifying modus operandi of the last few years. They’ve spent a chunk of money, but not necessarily on the right players, and they lost Xander Bogaerts forever.
What is this club doing? And why?
They looked this way at the trade deadline too, when everyone expected them to be sellers, and instead, they both bought and sold, like a perplexing hokey pokey. One player in, one player out, maybe getting better, but mostly looking worse.
There’s little reason to believe in the 2023 Red Sox or any iteration down the road. In fact, things could very well get even worse before they get better. On Thursday afternoon, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand named 10 trade candidates he thinks could be on the move in the near future, and unsurprisingly, two Sox players made the grade.
Bobby Dalbec… and Rafael Devers.
"“With Eric Hosmer and No. 2 prospect Triston Casas ahead of him on the depth chart at first base, Dalbec is a man without a role on the Red Sox roster. The 27-year-old had a solid 2021 season (25 home runs, .792 OPS), but he managed just 12 homers and a .652 OPS in 117 games in 2022, struggling to recapture his performance from the prior two seasons. Boston has let teams know that Dalbec is available, with Tampa Bay reportedly expressing interest.Having already lost Xander Bogaerts to free agency, the Red Sox will surely feel pressure to sign Devers to a multi-year extension. Devers is said to be seeking more than $300 million, and according to a source, Boston’s early offers are well short of that total. Will Boston learn a lesson from the Bogaerts situation? If the club and Devers are far apart in extension talks, the Red Sox could look to move Devers with one year remaining until he becomes a free agent rather than risking him signing elsewhere with nothing to show for it other than Draft-pick compensation.”"
MLB insider picks Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers as Red Sox trade candidates
Feinsand’s Sox picks aren’t particularly surprising – teams know Dalbec is available – but in Devers’ case, that’s precisely the issue.
After choosing to lose Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, virtually no one has faith that the Red Sox will do what it takes to keep Devers. It’s an utter embarrassment, and what’s worse, it’s a situation entirely of their own creation. The Sox put themselves in this position by lowballing and trading Betts and lowballing and failing to re-sign Bogaerts. They claimed that trading Betts was unavoidable (it wasn’t), but reassured fans that it would put them in a position to never have to make such a move again.
But this offseason, despite acknowledging that they were finally in that desired position, they failed spectacularly with Bogaerts. It’s become clear that they never really intended to make him a legitimate offer; they gambled that his love of Boston would sway him into taking a sizable discount, and they lost.
Leadership constantly speaks of making the right decisions, then continues to make the wrong ones. So, of course, no one trusts them to do right by Devers. More likely, Chaim Bloom will once again trade a young homegrown superstar for an underwhelming return.
The Sox could’ve come out of the regular-season gate screaming. They had the ability thrown money at Bogaerts and Devers while other teams were still vying for World Series rings. Instead, they kept lowballing them while the market exploded. Devers wanted $300M before Bogaerts blew past all projections and got 11 years, $280M; he’s certain to up his ask now, and the Sox already were tens of millions away from his desired price point. With every passing day, he looks more gone than one of his towering home runs.
22 contracts in MLB history have totaled 10 or more years, and $300M contracts now number in the double digits. None of them belong to the Red Sox. No Boston player has signed for more than eight years (Manny Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia) or $215M (David Price).
Devers will either make franchise history, or he’ll be history.