Boston Red Sox need to pick either Rafael Devers or Xander Bogaerts

Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have a decision to make in the next month or so. Will they extend the contract of shortstop Xander Bogaerts or third baseman Rafael Devers? Assuming the recently more thrifty Red Sox ownership won’t sanction both being re-signed, it would seem this will be a very tough decision for Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer, Chaim Bloom.

The team will likely either re-do Bogaerts deal or give Devers a well-earned extension. Both will be high compensation players. So, Red Sox fans, whom should the team re-sign? It’s a tough question, but let’s take a look at how this situation may unfold.

Since both are unlikely to be retained, who might be the best option for the team to ensure its future success? Whatever path is chosen, let’s be clear; it isn’t going to be an easy decision. I’m not saying that the Sox will absolutely have to make a choice, but, if the team does, let’s explore whom they should extend.

For the Boston Red Sox, who is the choice; Bogaerts or Devers?

First, let’s review the more veteran of the two players, Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts is an All-Star shortstop. He’s a really good player. Yet, his very competent agent, Scott Boras, wants all his top players to be totally well-compensated. And that is the problem for Bloom and the Boston Red Sox.

Bogaerts can opt out of his current contract that pays him a paltry $20M per year and enter free agency after this season. If you’re a client of his agent, that’s all but a certainty. So, the Red Sox have a dilemma. Pay Bogaerts his $30M+, 7-10 year contract, or risk losing him in free agency for the paltry compensation of perhaps a second-round draft pick.

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Bogaerts is a very, very good player, as evidenced by his current batting average of .339. His power numbers are sluggish so far, with just six home runs and 31 RBI’s, but he’s still as productive a hitter as ever. He’ll also be 30 years old in October, which is an important number to keep in mind.

It’s clear that Bogaerts is a really good, and very popular, All-Star-caliber player. Salary considerations notwithstanding, the Red Sox would be happy to have him on their squad for the rest of his career.

Why Boston Red Sox Rafael Devers is the better signing

So, having reviewed the Bogaerts situation, let’s look at Devers. Devers is just 25 years old and won’t turn 26 until October. He’s four years younger than Bogaerts and he may not even have hit his prime yet. In addition, his power numbers surpass Bogaerts’ significantly.

At present, Devers has 16 home runs and 42 RBI’s to his name, along with a very healthy .333 batting average. That’s super run-production, and his batting average is not far from that of Bogaerts. He’s on track for an MVP-level season.

While a lesser defensive player, Devers is clearly a superior run producer. In addition, the Red Sox have a tailor-made shortstop in Trevor Story (recently signed to another large contract) ready to step in for Bogaerts if he were to leave. So with all this in mind, what is the logical conclusion?

First, it’s that not re-signing either will be painful. That notwithstanding, there’s really not much doubt in which direction Bloom and the Red Sox will likely go. The Red Sox have to sign Rafael Devers to a contract extension that may be in the range 10 years, $33-40M per year.

It’s not a great situation committing mega-dollars for 10 years, but it’s the going rate for superstar players. Hopefully, that level of financial commitment will not be accompanied by a dreaded opt-out clause though. That should be avoided at all cost.

Alternatively, they’ll likely allow Bogaerts to leave if he chooses to opt out of his contract after the 2022 season, an almost certain eventuality. As they say a bit further south down in Foxborough, it is what it is. And that’s a very tough situation for any team to deal with.

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Both Bogaerts and Devers are All-Star players, but if the Red Sox decide they can’t pay both (not entirely out of the question, but less likely) and have to choose between them, the clear choice is Rafael Devers.

Devers is the best option at his age, his upward trending average and home run potential. Also, absent injury, the likelihood he’ll be productive for most, if not all of the 10 years, is higher. If they have to choose, the choice is Devers. Who would you suggest the Boston Red Sox keep if they can only sign one of these players? We’d like to hear.