The Boston Red Sox finally did it. They managed to retain a star player before he hit free agency or had to be traded. On Wednesday, Boston and Rafael Devers agreed to an 11-year contract extension worth $331 million. The Sox locked up their 26-year-old All-Star third baseman, giving them a cornerstone to build around. It's a shame it took this long for it to happen.
Retaining Devers is a no-brainer. He's a franchise cornerstone who has been consistently excellent. In 2022 he slashed .295/.358/.521 with 27 home runs, 88 RBIs and a 4.9 fWAR. In MLB's three last full seasons his fWAR numbers have been 6.7, 4.2 and 4.9. All excellent. We'll forgive his 0.7 mark during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
The Devers deal comes a month after All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts bolted Boston to join the San Diego Padres on an 11-year, $280 million deal. Retaining Devers needed to happen, but you can't blame Red Sox fans for feeling Boston deciding to spend money came a bit too late.
Sox general manager Chaim Bloom's tenure in Boston has been a disaster thus far. His first big move after taking over in December of 2019 was to trade Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for table scraps. That move was based purely on finances, as the Red Sox didn't want to hand Betts $30-plus million a season for 10-plus years. The Dodgers certainly don't regret doing so.
The Red Sox could have given Bogaerts a contract extension last offseason in the $22 million per year range if he'd been willing to give the All-Star six to eight years. Instead they offered him $90 million over four years. This offseason, they reportedly offered him $160 million over six years, far below what he actually got from the Padres.
But those weren't the only players Bloom and owner John Henry refused to fork over money to in order to retain them. Andrew Benintendi was traded for pennies on the dollar, Hunter Renfroe was shipped out for a Jackie Bradley Jr. reunion that lasted 91 games. Boston allowed Kyle Schwarber to walk after a great 2021 season only to see him get snapped up by the Phillies and be a key piece of a run to the World Series.
Where did the Sox choose to spend money? They handed Trevor Story a six-year, $140 million deal coming off his worst professional season. He went on to be even worse in Year 1 with the Red Sox.
Since 2019 the Red Sox have had six players selected to the All-Star Game. Devers and 32-year-old middle reliever Matt Barnes are only two still on the roster in 2023.
Boston did the right thing locking Devers up. It had to happen after the attrition of the past few years. But after watching franchise cornerstones in Betts and Bogaerts walk away, and seeing a slew of decent players vanish from the roster, this feels like too little too late. Devers is going to feel awful lonely in that clubhouse.