Red Sox learn ideal lesson, lock up Ceddanne Rafaela on surprise long-term deal

Boston Red Sox v Oakland Athletics
Boston Red Sox v Oakland Athletics / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

Ceddanne Rafaela's impact on the Boston Red Sox's lineup has been immediate. The rookie's defensive skills have saved multiple hits and won the Sox a few close games. Boston has enjoyed his stellar defense so much that it's decided to lock up the rookie long-term.

The Red Sox and Rafaela have agreed to a contract extension, as reported by a source close to the team. The news of the deal was first broken by Chris Cotillo of MassLive. It was later reported that Rafaela signed an eight-year, $50 million deal.

Rafaela is the second young Red Sox to receive a contract extension this year. Bryan Bello was extended in early March and many interpreted the signing as the official beginning of Boston's youth movement.

Sam Kennedy recently confirmed on an episode of the "Fenway Rundown" podcast that the front office was in talks with a few players about extensions as spring training wound down. He could not confirm whether or not the negotiations continued into the season, but Rafaela's deal suggests that Craig Breslow and the front office have been putting in the work even after the start of the campaign.

The Red Sox and Ceddanne Rafaela have agreed to a contract extension

Rafaela's extension might also reveal that the Red Sox are taking a page out of the Braves' book — they've locked up young talent early on a team-friendly deal so they don't have to be concerned about losing their homegrown stars to free agency.

Signing players before they've reached their peak value is also wise, as Atlanta was able to sign Ronald Acuña Jr., the reigning National League MVP, to an eight-year, $100 million deal when he was 21. Last year, Acuña became the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 70 bases in a season, and he was paid just $17 million to do it.

Rafaela has similar skills to Acuña, and the Red Sox organization must see that. The rookie has made multiple Gold Glove-caliber plays just a few weeks into Boston's season and he's already earning comparisons to a former Red Sox fan-favorite center fielder, Jackie Bradley Jr. Rafaela's sprint speed ranked in the 85th percentile in MLB in 2023 according to Baseball Savant, which makes him a threat on the base paths. His offense hasn't matched his spring training performances yet, but the 23-year-old has plenty of time to hit his stride at the plate.

After a few iconic Red Sox have walked or been traded away when they didn't get the contract extension they were looking for from the team, it seems Boston has learned its lesson. Rafaela has been electric for the Red Sox in the opening weeks of the 2024 campaign, and now Sox fans can reap the benefits of his energy for years to come.

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