Rafael Devers extension: What the 11-year deal means for the Red Sox now and down the road

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The Boston Red Sox have reached an agreement with a young, homegrown superstar and their fans can breathe a sigh of relief. After seeing Mookie Betts traded – just one season removed from an MVP title and a World Series – and then Xander Bogaerts sign with the Padres, things were starting to look a little bleak with Rafael Devers.

You see, Devers, like Betts, is just a year away from free agency. If he were to go into the 2023 season without an extension, he would be dealing with questions all year like Bogaerts did in 2022. And if he were to reach free agency, another team might have made a ridiculous offer. to Devers that he could not – or would not – refuse.

Certainly, all of this was on the mind of the Red Sox front office and frontman Chaim Bloom when they offered 11 years and $331 million, making Devers the highest-paid Red Sox player of all time.

Naturally, attention now turns to the rest of the team.

As for the 2023 dispute, there are not many changes. They already had Devers for this upcoming season. Arguments could be made to give them a small bump with this deal as Devers should be in a much better position with the comfort of an 11-year contract versus dealing in free agency. is to come. Then again, one could point to Aaron Judge’s 2022 season as an example of how sometimes watching free agency can spur players into their best work. It’s hard to tell and miles vary from player to player, but expansion doesn’t really move the needle much for the group’s current chances at contention.

No, the long-term implications are where this deal changes the calculus for the Red Sox.

Devers is a top player with top five MVP upside. He’s heading into his age-26 season, so there’s a lot of upside left in him. He has the potential to be their best player for the next 6-8 years.

Not only that, but if the Red Sox had traded Devers or simply let him walk after the season, a rebuild might have been right around the corner. They simply wouldn’t have had many foundational pieces in place, not to mention the amount of faith the fans would have lost in the front office. Here it develops a ripple effect: top free agents want to go to teams that are going to win, and it’s easier to win with top free agents.

They don’t have a ton of core pieces yet, as Devers is only one player, but there is at least hope that the team will avoid a breakdown.

  • Devers is 26.
  • Shortstop Trevor Story is 30 and locked up through 2027.
  • Newly signed outfielder Masataka Yoshida is 29 and has a five-year contract.
  • Outfielder Alex Verdugo is 27 and has two years until free agency.

They may be looking for long-term suits for pitchers Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck and/or Nick Pivetta. Maybe Bobby Dalbec and/or Triston Casas will join the raid.

Regardless, we can easily see that he looked thin without Devers and he makes things look a lot better. In the short term, veterans such as Chris Sale, Justin Turner, Corey Kluber and Kenley Jansen can keep them at bay while the front office looks to continue building the farm system (ranked 11th of 30 teams by Baseball America in August) to declare that he is producing at the big league level — either through direct impact with star prospects or by trading prospect money for established big league talent .

Getting Devers around long term will help make Boston a more attractive free agent destination in the next few years as well. Not only is a current star on many, but this front office has finally shown that it will go ahead with these types of deals.

It shouldn’t block them for other big free agent deals, either. Even with Devers, the Red Sox aren’t currently looking at a payroll exceeding $150 million in any season past 2024 and their financial situation suggests they could easily spend it well into the 200s.

The bottom line is that while this is certainly a good deal for the Red Sox for 2023, it was much more about future years with a strong impact that goes far beyond individual production, on the field at Devers. It was a big sign for this front office – and one that is sorely needed.

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