Boston Red Sox Rumors: Rafael Devers extension could come soon (or not)

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

Update: Since this article was published it has been reported that Devers was indeed offered an extension, but he turned it down because it was much lower than what he was looking for. As a result, Devers will focus on the 2022 season and look to increase his market value.

The Boston Red Sox will have to wait one more day for the start of their season. After their initial Opening Day contest against the New York Yankees was postponed earlier today due to inclement weather, the two teams will kick off their respective seasons on Friday at 1:05 P.M.

Having to wait another day for the start of the regular season is a bummer for the fans, but the Sox themselves may actually stand to benefit from having an extra day off before the season starts. That’s because the team has started to work on potential extensions for Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. Both players said they weren’t willing to discuss extensions during the season, so in essence, the proverbial deadline just got pushed back from Thursday to Friday.

While there doesn’t appear to be a ton of momentum for a deal to get done with either player, there’s an outside chance that Boston finds a way to extend Devers before the start of the season. There are some rumors floating around that Devers and the Boston Red Sox are hovering around a deal somewhere in the ballpark of nine years, $270 million, and getting this done before the season starts would be one less issue the team has to worry about moving forward.

The Boston Red Sox should extend Rafael Devers while they can

First, a bit of a precursor on why a Devers’ extension talks could be picking up some steam. Earlier today, the Cleveland Guardians extended their own star third baseman Jose Ramirez to a five year, $124 million contract. In some ways, that has help set a bit of a benchmark for where Devers and the Sox should stand in negotiations.

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Now obviously Ramirez and Devers are different players. Ramirez is more of an all around guy, who excels at the plate and on the basepaths, although his fielding capabilities are iffy at best. Devers offers the potential to be one of the league’s best hitters, while struggling a bit in the field and on the bases. It’s also worth noting Devers is still just 25 years old, while Ramirez will be 30 by the time the season ends.

Ramirez’s deal is good for about $25 million a year, so unless Devers and his camp seems to think he is worth exponentially more than Ramirez (he isn’t) the $30 million per year value on the nine year, $270 million deal I previously mentioned makes sense.

The main reason Devers would earn more money than Ramirez is because the Boston Red Sox would effectively lock up him for most of his career. Devers has more potential than Ramirez when it comes to hitting (Ramirez is pretty much established at this point), and while Ramirez is the better all around player right now, Devers has the ability to become one of the best players in the league if he keeps things up.

With Ramirez’s benchmark in place, the Sox need to do what they can to reach an extension with Devers before the season starts. $270 million may seem like a ton of money, but spread out over nine seasons, especially for a player who is only 25, isn’t that bad. Devers is a star, and he’s only going to keep getting better. There’s a good chance his price will increase if Boston opts to push this off until next offseason.

Devers’ past two full seasons (2019 & 2021) have seen him emerge as one of the best hitters in the league. He’s hit 30+ homers and driven in 100+ runs in both those seasons, and again, he’s only 25. Based on his Spring Training performance, in which he hit six home runs over just 12 games, it’s not outrageous to expect Devers to eclipse the 40 homer mark this season.

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I know a question on the front of many people’s minds is going to be “why is it OK to give Devers this deal when Chaim Bloom and the front office dealt away Mookie Betts when he was up for an extension”? For starters, the length of Betts’ contract just isn’t good business. He’s not scheduled to hit free agency until he’s 40 years old, and in his final season, at age 39, he will be earning $27.5 million. I can tell you right now he will not be worth that money by then.

Secondly, you can make an argument Betts has already started to decline in some areas. His 2021 season was solid, but by his standards (and for a player earning over $30 million per year on his current deal) he wasn’t worth the money.

Devers had a far more productive season at the plate than Betts, and while he may bounce back this season, he’s already going to be 30 once the season ends, and another season similar to last year will be the cause of some concern for Los Angeles Dodgers fans. For comparison’s sake, here are the pair’s numbers from the 2021 season:

Betts: .264 BA, 23 HR, 58 RBI, .854 OPS

Devers: .279 BA, 38 HR, 113 RBI, .890 OPS

There are also guys like Kris Bryant, who is already 30 years old and clearly not the player he once was, getting seven years, $182 million from the Colorado Rockies in free agency. Bryant has already begun to regress, and there’s just no way that deal is going to be worth it when Bryant is making $26 million in his age 37 season.

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All this goes to show how the Boston Red Sox are running out of chances to lock up Devers on a relatively team friendly deal while they can. They could have done the same thing last season, but instead watched Devers put together the best year of his career to help him earn even more money once he gets his big contract.

The Sox waited once and Devers made them pay. With an extra day to negotiate, Bloom and the front office would be wise to get a deal done while they can.