The Boston Red Sox may have traded away Mookie Betts, but Rafael Devers is quickly rising as the next elite star in Major League Baseball.
The Boston Red Sox have had some great homegrown talent emerging as elite in Major League Baseball over the last few seasons. While they traded away one of those talents in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, another player is quickly emerging as one of the league’s best third baseman.
Yes, while we still wallow in our misery out of the disbelief that the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts, watching the 23-year-old Rafael Devers emerge in the conversation of top third basemen in the league are turning those tears a bit.
Writing for the Athletic, former big league executive Jim Bowden has Devers in a group of some very notable MLB stars. That list is topped by Houston Astros star Alex Bregman, followed by Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon, Manny Machado, Matt Chapman, Josh Donaldson, Chris Bryant and then Rafael Devers as No. 8 just ahead of another Red Sox farm product Yoan Moncada.
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At just 23 years old and showing improvement both at the plate and defensively in each season he has played with the big club, it is hard to argue with where Devers is ranked, but he is rising. Boy, is he rising and the future looks bright according to Bowden.
“Devers is well-round as a hitter; he can hit lefties, righties, fastballs, breaking balls and changeups,” Bowden wrote, via NESN. “He has tremendous plate coverage and awareness as well. Defensively, he made 22 errors at third base with -10 defensive runs saved with a UZR of 2.7. He continues to work hard on his defense and the improvement is steady and should continue to trend in an upward direction.”
Following a couple of up-and-down seasons in 2017 and 2018, Devers had a breakout season offensively in 2019 and was really one of the bright spots of a team that failed to defend their 2018 MLB championship.
In 647 at-bats, Rafael Devers tore the cover off the ball hitting .311 with a career-high in homeruns with 32 and RBI with 115. It was an amazing season for a player who is just starting to blossom.
The Boston Red Sox get a second chance with Rafael Devers
As a team that certainly learns from past mistakes, the emergence of Rafael Devers will quickly compare to the quick rise of Mookie Betts. Therefore, the Boston Red Sox will have an opportunity to make up for trading one of the best young players in baseball.
Actually, it is still hard to believe that a franchise that has thrown the big bucks at players like Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo over the past few seasons couldn’t find a way to pay one of their own.
Yes, there was an attempt by the Red Sox to lock up Mookie Betts long-term, but they underestimated his value. Instead of doing what the Los Angeles Angels did with Mike Trout, the team felt the need to trade him to the other L.A. team out of fear of him walking away in the open market.
Chaim Bloom and the current Red Sox brass can’t allow Rafael Devers to get to that point. Extend him now before he rises on that list of top third baseman as highlighted Jim Bowden. Extend him now before he challenges for and/or becomes a league MVP. Sign him now before he blossoms into the best overall player in baseball period.
As fate proved with Mookie Betts, the longer the team does not show a young, rising star the money, the harder and more expensive it comes to keep that star. Especially when the rest of baseball recognizes that ceiling and has their check books open and ready.
With the MLB season currently on hiatus, the Boston Red Sox may be in position to actually win that Betts deal, but they don’t want to get in that position again when it comes to the emerging elite status of Rafael Devers.