Former MLB All-Star slams Red Sox for ’embarrassing’ treatment of Rafael Devers
The Boston Red Sox are getting called out for mishandling their brightest stars.
Must be a day that ends in ‘y.’
Earlier this week, former MLB All-Star and Silver Slugger Carlos Baerga weighed in on his former team’s ongoing negotiations with Rafael Devers, which look less promising by the hour. Translated from Spanish, Baerga’s condemnation cut like a perfectly sharpened knife:
"“The Red Sox are embarrassing. They don’t deserve a player like Rafael Devers. It’s incredible that they haven’t offered him a contract like he deserves. My advice to Devers is to put the numbers he always puts in next season and sign with a team that values him.”"
Carlos Baerga says Red Sox are ’embarrassing’ themselves with Rafael Devers treatment
Devers will become a free agent after the 2023 season, and once again, the Sox are dangerously close to losing one of the best players they’ve ever developed because they refuse to give out what amounts to a career contract. While other teams are eagerly throwing $300M and a decade at 30-year-olds, the Sox have given out one contract in excess of $160M, and that was seven years ago when they signed David Price; they didn’t even end up paying him all of it. In less than three years, they’ve failed with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts; Devers is their last chance.
Of his 14-year career, Baerga was only with the Red Sox for 73 games in 2002. That was current ownership’s first season, so their overlap was brief. But Baerga is far from the only former player to call the Sox out for their mishandling of Xander Bogaerts and Devers. The ever-growing list includes David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Dennis Eckersley, Will Middlebrooks, and Brock Holt. After signing his 11-year contract with the San Diego Padres, Bogaerts joined the ranks of former Sox recommending Devers get paid. There have also been countless quotes from anonymous front-office sources and agents around the league, revealing the low standing of the Sox among their peers and associates.
It’s embarrassing, indeed.
It’s embarrassing that no one trusts the Red Sox to get a deal done.
It’s embarrassing that they’ve established such a poor reputation through their repeated mishandling of homegrown stars, and that they’ve cultivated such an unappealing environment that no one would blame Devers for leaving.
It’s embarrassing because this time, unlike when they traded Betts, there are no excuses behind which to hide; public information traps them under a microscope. Everyone knows exactly how much money the Sox have to spend, how few long-term financial obligations they have, and that their farm system ranked 11th this year. Everyone knows that they need Devers more than he needs them.
It’s embarrassing because the Sox have had months, years even, to pay Devers. They should have paid him after his outstanding 2019 season, but they fired Dave Dombrowski in September, hired Chaim Bloom in November, parted ways with Alex Cora in January, traded Betts in February, and then hit pause on everything when the coronavirus pandemic took hold. They could have paid him at some point during all of that, but it’s fair to say things were a bit chaotic.
But they could’ve paid Devers after the 2020 season, to cushion a last-place finish, and they could’ve capped off a surprising ALCS run in 2021 by paying him last winter. Getting a deal done a year ago would have signaled that 2020 was an aberration, a brief intermission before resuming their run as the biggest winners of the century.
Instead, they waited and lowballed a homegrown champ again. So now, they’ll either have to trade him – a move from which they may never recover – or pay him at least $75M more than they’ve ever paid anyone (Price’s 7-year, $215M contract is the richest in franchise history). It would have been smart to throw the money he wanted at him in October or November, but they didn’t act with urgency before free agency erupted. Now, Devers knows exactly what the market is for stars, most of whom are at least a year older. If Bogaerts got 11 years and $280M at 30 years old, the 26-year-old Devers, who has more extra-base hits over the last four years than any other player, can get significantly more than $300M on the open market next fall.
Devers has informed the Sox that he won’t negotiate beyond spring training, something he stipulated last winter as well. Time is running out. How much more embarrassing can the Red Sox get? Let’s hope we don’t find out.